On Thursday, October 8th, members of Centre Foundation’s Giving Circle gathered virtually for their annual reception to hear presentations from three local organizations: Centre County Youth Service Bureau, CentrePeace, and Centre Volunteers in Medicine.

The evening was live-streamed on YouTube and facilitated by Jason Browne and James Tierney of State College Live. Members of the Giving Circle were able to use the chat feature to participate with comments and questions throughout the event.

Each year, Giving Circle members pool their resources to create grants for local nonprofits. In addition to an increase in donor memberships, a generous contribution from the Boalsburg Car Company to the Giving Circle allowed for an increased grant total of $19,000, up from $17,000 in previous years.

After members’ votes were tallied, CentrePeace was awarded $11,000 to implement “Community Conferencing”, a voluntary restorative justice program that brings together victims and offenders to resolve conflict through dialogue. In other communities, the program has proven to ease the caseload on court systems and law enforcement.

CentrePeace’s mission is to promote restorative justice and decrease victimization in our communities by offering training and avenues to peace, healing, responsibility, and accountability for offenders.

CentrePeace and Center for Alternatives in Community Justice began planning for Community Conferencing in March of 2020, with the support of Chief of Police John Gardner and former Chief of Police Tom King. 

“We are overwhelmed by this gracious gift of $11,000 for Community Conferencing. We gratefully and humbly receive this gift of affirmation and support,” said Evelyn Wald, Executive Director of Centre for Alternatives in Community Justice. 

Recognizing the need for alternative justice programs in our area, CentrePeace will contract training from Dr. Lauren Abramson, who originated the Baltimore Community Conferencing Program in 1995.  The Centre County program is expected to serve between 150-250 offenders across demographics within its first year. 

In August, organizations were encouraged to apply for the Giving Circle grant. Giving Circle members reviewed the 26 submitted applications and voted to determine which three organizations would proceed as finalists to present at the virtual reception in October.

Centre County Youth Service Bureau (YSB) and Centre Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM) each received a $4,000 grant as runners up.

Centre County Youth Service Bureau (YSB), a nonprofit that helps children and youth through an array of prevention programs, family services, and residential homes, will use the grant for their “Streetworks” program which visits rural and isolated neighborhoods during after-school hours to connect youth with resources that keep them safe.

Vice President of Programs Denise McCann discussed the importance of creating positive connections so youth know a safe adult they can turn to in times of crisis.

Centre Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM), a volunteer organization that serves and advocates for the medically underserved, will use the grant to expand the scope of medical services in their Women’s Health Program.

Executive Director Cheryl White and Development Director Monica Wright illustrated the need for equipment, supplies, and medications to serve an increased number of patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Since the establishment of the Giving Circle in 2006 as part of Centre Foundation’s 25th-anniversary celebration, members have distributed $175,000 in grants, supporting important projects and organizations that serve Centre County.

Previous recipients of the Giving Circle grant include: Centre Safe, ACRES Project, Interfaith Human Services, Park Forest Preschool, House of Care, Discovery Space, Housing Transitions, Strawberry Fields, and Centre Helps.

More information about the Giving Circle program is available here.