GWCF’S Youth Philanthropy Program Awards More Than $25,000

by | Dec 24, 2020

Fresh off its 20th anniversary, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation’s Youth for Community Improvement program this year focused its grantmaking on COVID-19 relief as well as access and equity across the greater Worcester community.

Pivoting online, nine students from the prior year participated in the 2020 YCI program. This group of high school juniors and seniors represented Bancroft School, Doherty High in Worcester, Grafton High School, Shrewsbury High School and Worcester Technical High School.

COVID-19 was always going to pose a challenge to the way in which YCI has been hosted in years past, said Barbara Fields, GWCF President and CEO. “I’d like to commend Sarah Shugrue, GWCF Program Officer and YCI’s program manager, and each of our students for their resiliency and commitment to making the pivot to an online platform such a success.”

Fields added: “I am always impressed by the students’ energy and curiosity – as leaders and philanthropists – throughout the weeks-long program.”

After three months of research, discussion, and deliberation, the 2020 cohort chose to fund 15 organizations with a total $26,500 in grantmaking. In total, there were 27 requests for funding from the YCI program this year.

From the start, said Shugrue, “it was very easy for the 2020 participants to land on these issues because they understood COVID-19 relief as well as access and equity are among the most pressing issues in our community.”

Shugrue added: “I’m proud of what they were able to fund. These are organizations that are committed to ensuring people’s basic needs are met and/or are working to create space for everyone.”

Each year, Shugrue’s goal is “to see the further evolution of authentic youth voice” among the requests for funding submitted by local nonprofits. “This year, that goal has been met,” she said.

Those organizations chosen to receive funding from YCI 2020 participants are listed below:

African Community Education’s ACE Ambassadors: $1,500

PROGRAM: Youth development program focused on leadership and advocacy

Ansaar of Worcester’s Youth-Led Community Service Projects: $1,500

PROGRAM: Series of community engagement activities led by students and informed by community needs assessments

Ascentria Community Services’ Racism Dialogues for Youth Advisory Council: $1,000

PROGRAM: Youth-led program on racial justice for unaccompanied refugee minors

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest’s Technology Access for Students: $2,000

PROGRAM: Purchase laptops and headphones for students

City of Worcester Department of Health & Human Services’ City Manager’s Youth Council: $2,000

PROGRAM: Youth-led program to support peers

Girls, Inc. of Worcester’s Girls Advisory Council: $1,500

PROGRAM: Funds to hire a racial justice consultant

Hope Coalition’s Peer Leadership Program: $2,000

PROGRAM: Social media campaign and virtual meetings to support youth mental health

Living in Freedom Together, Inc.’s Youth Outreach & Advocacy Services: $2,000

PROGRAM: Mentoring and crisis support for young people

My Turn, Inc.’s Fitchburg Employment Plus Program: $1,000

PROGRAM: Funds to purchase food, PPE, and technology support for participants

Nativity School of Worcester: $1,500

PROGRAM: Diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism workshops to support staff and students on the issues of racial justice

Pernet Family Health Service, Inc.’s Homework Club: $1,500

PROGRAM: A virtual academic and mental health support system for young people

Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center’s Pleasant-Piedmont Youth Leadership Council: $2,000

PROGRAM: Youth-driven virtual activity programs

Regional Environmental Council, Inc.’s YouthGROW: $2,000

PROGRAM: YouthGROW, or Youth Growing Organics in Worcester, supports youth farming jobs

Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Relief: $3,000

PROGRAM: Support for youth to deliver PPE, groceries, and meals to community members

Worcester Youth Center’s Civic Partnership Program: $2,000

PROGRAM: Support for a new, youth-led civic engagement program


More information on the YCI program can be found on the GWCF website.