Local Teens Award $6,000 To Help Their Peers

March 11, 2009 (Syracuse, NY) – Last week, six city teenagers awarded $6,000 to the Building Men Program at T.A. Levy Middle School as the culmination of their participation in the Central New York Community Foundation’s Youth in Philanthropy program. The Youth in Philanthropy program (YIP) inspires local high school students to be grantmakers by teaching them how to carefully evaluate community need, identify and compare the agencies and programs working to fill that need, and ultimately to choose an award recipient based on merit.

Participants in the program were recruited from five local youth agencies: Boys and Girls Club, Huntington Family Center, P.E.A.C.E., the Spanish Action League and Vincent House. The team gathered twice a month for the past year to discuss the area’s needs and learn how to award sustainable and effective grants. The local high school drop-out rate was the area they chose to focus on.

The high drop-out rate in the Syracuse City School District was an important topic to the team because they have seen many of their peers drop out of high school. One YIP participant had even considered dropping out herself, but the team’s commitment to drop-out prevention inspired her to stay in school.

The youth received several proposals from local agencies combating this problem and decided that the Levy Building Men program was deserving of the grant money because the program stresses the need to do well in school and be a responsible person. Building Men, directed by Physical Education teacher Joe Horan, works with boys at Levy Middle School to connect their dreams to education, motivating them to pursue academic success. Positive male teachers, staff and mentors are introduced into the boys’ lives to provide support and a sense of belonging, offering an alternative to the lure of gangs and encouraging a positive life path.

Mr. Horan’s dedication and passion for the program was one of the reasons the team chose the Building Men program as the grant recipient. The team liked how the program’s participants were encouraged to work together as well as explore their individual strengths, determining that these skills would help them to persevere and succeed.

The YIP team presented their grant award during one of the Building Men’s Chalk Talk Sessions, which feature community guest speakers who tell their stories about overcoming challenges and finding success. When the team announced the grant award and presented the ceremonial check, the almost 40 young men filled the room with applause and high-fives.

“I really think that moment was especially meaningful to our team,” said Kristin Good, the YIP project facilitator.  “It really showed their gratitude and rewarded our team for their hard work.”

The Building Men program will use the grant dollars to purchase supplies and expand the program to High School grades in the future.

Youth in Philanthropy is a special initiative of the Central New York Community Foundation.  The Community Foundation connects the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to organizations working to enhance the quality of life of those who live and work in Central New York. The Community Foundation annually makes more than $5 million in grants and provides leadership support in the fields of arts and culture, community and economic development, education, environment, health and human services. Founded in 1927, the Community Foundation strives to inspire philanthropy in Central New York.

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