Twenty-two Centre County high school students awarded $4,412 to three local nonprofits at the conclusion of their year-long participation in Centre PACT (Philanthropic Actions Created by Teens), a program facilitated by Centre Foundation. Recipient organizations include The Pennsylvania Mental Health Initiative, Tides, and Penns Valley Youth Center.

On Sunday, May 23rd, students, parents, nonprofit representatives, and Centre Foundation staff and board members gathered virtually via Zoom to announce the grant awards and to celebrate the end of the program year. 

Centre PACT is led by Centre Foundation staffers, Kerry Tolton; Development and Stewardship Director, Rachael Hartman; Community Impact Director, and Hope Bodenschatz; Centre PACT Coordinator. 

Tolton and Bodenschatz kicked off the program, followed by State College Area High School sophomore, Isabella Caceres, who shared the Centre PACT mission and presented an overview of the 2021 program year.

State College Area High School junior Allison Mi presented Erin Crown, President of The Pennsylvania Mental Health Initiative, with a $750 grant for their Central Pennsylvania School Districts Pilot Program. This new program will provide professional development education for teachers in rural, low-income school districts to help them assist their students who struggle with mental health issues.

“Thank you to Centre PACT and to the students who so thoughtfully considered our grant application,” Crown said. “We are very excited about this pilot project and recognize that we have an opportunity to meet an unmet need for teachers that will trickle down into positive outcomes for students.”

State College senior, Scarlett Gingerich and Penns Valley Area High School senior, Jordan Anderson, presented a $1,162 grant to Leslie Finton, Tides Board Chair. This grant will allow Tides to provide individualized, loss-specific, and age-appropriate grief support bags to identified children and their guardians who are mourning the death of a loved one, as part of their Waves of Care Initiative.

“I wanted to thank you all so much for this opportunity. We’re really excited to begin this program because it brings it to an individual level, where we can customize the Grief Bags to the age of the child and what they may need most,” Finton said. “The dedication that [Centre PACT] students show in learning more about local community organizations and to be so heartfelt in making your decisions – we are just so grateful.”

State College senior, Claire Jin presented Darren Narber, Executive Director of the Penns Valley Youth Center, with a $2,500 grant to provide STEM Activities for their K-5 After School Program. The grant will fund a variety of STEM-related projects and learning opportunities that will expose students to new ways of problem-solving and looking at the world.

“On behalf of the Youth Center and our board of directors, and particularly our students, thank you for seeing our grant as worthy of consideration. It’s been a hard year, particularly for our students,” Narber said. “We’ve been privileged to be on the frontlines of running towards students during this last year, and we’ve had the privilege of being able to meet them where they’re at, and to continue to encourage and challenge them to grow as people. We’re looking forward to using this funding to continue that program.”

Following Bodenschatz’s graduation from Penn State in the spring, Hope will be leaving her role as Centre PACT Coordinator after six years of involvement in the program. She will be starting a new position as a Research Assistant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 

“This program has meant so much to me over the past six years, from when I was a student in Centre PACT as a senior in high school, to being a collegiate advisor, to coordinating the program. I’m excited to see how the program will continue to grow and to get to see the impact that all of the students work so hard to make,” said Bodenschatz, reflecting on her experience.

“It’s been wonderful to get to know the students. They have really left an impact on me. It’s been great to see how energetic, enthusiastic, and caring the students are and how willing they are to put in the hard work to transform what they care about into action. It’s such a powerful and vital thing to be able to do.”

In addition to Hope’s departure as coordinator, Centre PACT acknowledges the following student participants who are set to graduate this spring: Jordan Anderson, Scarlett Gingerich, Natasha Hoffman, Claire Jin, Maddie King, and Marina Naumova.

Centre PACT collegiate advisor, Emma Neely, and State College junior, Allison Mi, created this Year in Review video to celebrate the work of the Centre PACT Class of 2021 and to recognize Bodenschatz and the graduating seniors.

Each year, Centre PACT empowers high school students from across Centre County to discuss issues facing their peers, learn about potential solutions that nonprofits offer, and ultimately fund the programs that they think will be most effective. 

Centre County high school students are invited to apply to join the Centre PACT Class of 2022 during fall recruitment, which will begin in August. To learn more, visit