Centre PACT Students Grant $8,495 to Six Local Organizations
A group of Centre County high school students awarded $8,495 to six local non-profit organizations as the culmination of their year-long participation in Centre PACT (Philanthropic Actions Created by Teens), a program of Centre Foundation.
“I am tremendously excited about the impact our funding will make for all the organizations we have chosen to support,” said Aja Kukic-Bartoo, a member of Centre PACT.
In September, the students kicked-off the program by selecting the theme of “Educating and Inspiring Youth for a Healthier, Brighter Future,” which guided their granting decisions in April.
“Since September, these amazing students have rolled up their sleeves and learned about philanthropy in a very hands-on way, learning everything from granting to fundraising,” said Molly Kunkel, Executive Director at Centre Foundation. “They have made such an impact, and in the areas that really speak to them. It’s been so inspiring to watch these young philanthropists grow during the course of this program.”
After creating their own grant application process and putting out a request for proposal, the students reviewed the applications. Finalist organizations received a site visit from a cohort of the students so that they could view the program up close, see the impact, and ask the staff questions.
“The grant application process and site visits allowed the students to learn more about the nuts and bolts of granting, as well as provided them with a window into how non-profits operate,” explained Kunkel.
The students began the year with a $1,000 granting pool provided by Centre Foundation and $2,000 from a recently opened endowment fund for their group, but quickly realized their appetite for impact was much larger. So, they began a prospecting campaign that ultimately raised $5,495 from 37 community supporters.
“The students’ dedication to expanding their impact was commendable, allowing them to make grants to six organizations,” said Kunkel.
Students, parents, community supporters, and non-profit representatives were on hand for a check presentation party, which also marked the end of the program’s second year.
Centre PACT students Joanna Switala and Emma Riglin presented $750.00 to Front & Centre Productions of Philipsburg.“I’m excited about giving money to Front & Centre Productions,” noted Riglin. “I have experienced their program and their impact. They truly provide great programs for youth in Centre County, especially Philipsburg which is so important.”
“It is an honor to be receiving a grant from the amazing young philanthropists of Centre PACT,” said Stephen Switala, Executive Director of Front & Centre Productions. “We are excited to utilize the grant to offer a Children’s Choir to our community as another outlet for youth creativity through the arts. INSPIRE Children’s Choir will offer young vocalists the opportunity to sing with others while spreading a message of inspiration, self-worth, and encouragement through music.”
Ann Marie Paul and Kukic-Bartoo presented $872.50 to Darren and Anne Narber of Penns Valley Youth Center (PVYC), which serves 6th – 12th grade students in the Penns Valley area. The funding will establish a new Integrative Arts Program, helping students to strengthen their success in and out of the classroom.
This was the second year that PVYC received a grant from Centre PACT students. Darren Narber noted his appreciation for the growing relationship with Centre PACT students, whose financial support has positively impacted students attending PVYC.
Joey Feffer, Patrick McNutt, and Katherine Kim presented $872.50 to Debbie Lower and Gail Addison-Guss of Park Forest Preschool (PFP) for the Love of Arts program. This grant will provide funding to enhance the music and art programs with more instruments, art easels, and other materials needed for open-ended arts activities.
Kim remarked that this grant would “give every kid the opportunity to become the best that they can be.”
“With this grant, the children at Park Forest Preschool will be painting, dancing, playing instruments, and singing to creatively support the development of the whole child,” said Addison-Guss, board chair of PFP.
Bella DiNallo, Brontë Clingham-David, and Grace Handler presented $1,000.00 to Marisa Vicere of the Jana Marie Foundation (JMF), also a second-time recipient of a Centre PACT grant.
Paul added that “it’s really great that the Jana Marie Foundation’s JAM sessions are now fully funded because they are the first co-ed creative expression programs that Jana Marie Foundation has.”
“We are so grateful for the support of Centre PACT,” said Vicere, President of JMF. “Because of their ambition and dedication to improving Centre County, Jana Marie Foundation can continue our efforts to enhance creative thinking and mental well-being of adolescents, ages 11-17, by offering J.A.M. Sessions. Art, music, and creative expression are lifelong sources of resilience, self-confidence, and happiness. Thanks to Centre PACT, young people will have the opportunity to experience the benefits of creative expression.”
Nick Feffer, Saoirse Hopp, and Will Wagner Henne presented $2,000.00 to Andrea Fisher of the Youth Service Bureau (YSB) for the Neighborhood Outreach program.
“After visiting the Youth Service Bureau site and hearing about all the work they do in the community, I feel very confident in granting this money to their program and believe it will make a very positive impact,” said Jackie Saleeby, reflecting on the students’ site visit to YSB.
“Their program to reach out to less privileged children could change their lives so early on,” added Centre PACT student Caroline Sparrow.
Fisher commended the students’ efforts, noting that the grant will provide six months of program funding. The Neighborhood Outreach program sends staff into the field to interact with at-risk youth who experience family strife and poverty. The YSB staff members provide healthy snacks, activities, mentoring, homework help, and hope.
The final grant of the evening was presented by Sparrow, Saleeby, and Joy Zhu. The students presented a $3,000.00 grant to Bella Bregar and Barb Alpert of the ACRES Project, which provides support for individuals with autism.
“The ACRES project is close to my heart because I have a family member with autism,” Clingham-David shared. “Knowing that I can improve the lives of people like her in my own community is very important to me.”
“After going on a site visit and meeting people involved with ACRES, I am excited to see the impact their after-school activity will have, both in the short-term and long-term,” reflected McNutt.
“We are so humbled to receive this grant,” said Bregar, Executive Director of ACRES Project. “It will allow us to provide a nine-week social group program, free of charge to young adults or high school students. It will provide a safe space to discuss and learn about friendship, social differences, and how to handle uncomfortable social situations. We are so excited to be able to offer this group.”
Perfect attendance awards were also presented to Emma Riglin and Joanna Switala, students from the Philipsburg-Osceola School District who travelled to State College for the monthly Centre PACT meetings. Graduating high school seniors included Nick Feffer (Dartmouth, Biology), Joey Feffer (Harvard, Applied Math), Emma Riglin (Pennsylvania State University, Public Relations), and Katherine Kim (Carnegie Mellon University, Biology).
Two Class of 2017 – Penn State students who helped found the Centre PACT program and served as collegiate advisors for the past two years were also recognized, Carver and McQuillin Murphy. The Murphys saw the program grow from a concept, to a pilot program with seven students raising $5,000, to this year’s program with 18 students.
Centre County high school students may apply to join Centre PACT during fall recruitment, which will begin as schools reopen in August and September. For more information, please visit Centre-Foundation.org or contact Irene Miller, Development & Events Coordinator (814.237.6229 | email@example.com).