Students Issue $6,000 in Grants to Local Organizations Addressing COVID-19 Crisis
Twenty-nine Centre County high school students awarded $6,000 to five 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 Centre Safe, Centre Volunteers in Medicine, CommonFood, Inc., Housing Transitions, and Out of the Cold: Centre County.
Last fall, the students met for the first time and formed six teams to address issues affecting their peers in these focus areas: the environment, housing & food stability, equity & opportunity, domestic violence & sexual assault, education, and mental health. Over the course of the program, the students created their own grant application, sent out a request for proposal, reviewed 31 competitive applications, and began securing donations.
In April, as the new reality of COVID-19 began to set in, the students opted to combine efforts under one mission: to support organizations that are assisting local residents as a result of the pandemic.
“Now more than ever, we’re seeing the need to join together to support and encourage one another,” said Hope Bodenschatz, Centre PACT Coordinator. “It’s been an absolute blessing for me to see the Centre PACT students choose to step up and use their grant to give aid to those made most vulnerable by the pandemic.”
The students started the year with $2,311, provided by Centre Foundation’s Centre PACT Fund. The Centre Pact Fund was established by anonymous donors in 2016 to encourage the next generation of philanthropists. It complements the students’ fundraising efforts and offers them greater latitude as they make their annual granting decisions. Though fundraising efforts were halted early this year due to safety concerns, the students were able to raise an additional $3,689 from over a dozen local businesses and community supporters.
On Sunday, May 17, students, parents, nonprofit representatives, and Centre Foundation staff gathered virtually via Zoom to announce grant awards and celebrate the end of the program year.
Kerry Tolton, Centre Foundation’s Development and Stewardship Director, and Hope Bodenschatz kicked off the program. Hope, who was a member of the original Centre PACT class as a student at SCASD, is now a senior at Penn State University and has served as the program’s coordinator since 2017. Student presentations followed.
Evan Jones, Emma Corby, and Larry Li presented $1,000 to Karl Gassmann of Housing Transitions.
Madeline Krentzman and Adrita Talukder presented $1,000 to Jim and Sheryl Leaman of CommonFood, Inc.
Allison Mi, George Bodenschatz, and Scarlett Gingerich presented $1,000 to Dana Plumley of Out of the Cold: Centre County.
“This means more than you could know,” said Plumley. “We’ve been talking a lot at Out of the Cold that COVID-19 might be contagious, but there’s something else that’s contagious, and that’s hope. Hope is contagious. We’re seeing that with our guests, with our staff, and with our volunteers. Thank you.”
Maya Ikenberry, Emma Neely, and Abby Gustafson presented $1,000 to Anne Ard, Executive Director, and Sarah McPherson, Director of Outreach and Education, of Centre Safe.
“We’re delighted to be the recipient of a grant from Centre PACT,” said Ard. “We know that the amount of domestic and sexual violence has not gone down, even though calls have. People are at home with the very people most likely to abuse them. It’s really critical that we begin to think about access and how people can connect with services and get the help that they need. We’ve worked during this pandemic to get the word out so that people know we’re still here, we’re still helping. Because of the gift that you are all making to Centre Safe, we’ll be able to continue doing that.”
Finally, Claire Jin, Elliot Sheehan, Marina Naumova, Mishika Mehta, Parisa Solaimanian, and Kasie Hertzberg presented $2,000 to Centre Volunteers in Medicine.
The following seven students were recognized for maintaining perfect attendance throughout the program year: Abby Gustafson, Saoirse Hopp, Maya Ikenberry, Claire Jin, Avery Jones, Priya Mitra, and Elliot Sheehan.
Eleven graduating high school seniors were also recognized: George Bodenschatz, Annie Gustafson, Evan Jones, Iris Li, Larry Li, Nick McNutt, Mishika Mehta, Emma Neely, Elliot Sheehan, Parisa Solaimanian, and Saoirse Hopp.
Centre County high school students are invited to apply to join the Centre PACT Class of 2021 during fall recruitment, which will begin in August. To learn more, please watch this student-made video or visit Centre-Foundation.org.