Youth philanthropy program helps educate youngsters

Since 2015, I have had the privilege of working closely with students from our local high schools through our Youth Philanthropy Program. The Youth Philanthropy initiative is a program of the Community Foundation of Grundy County, which hopes to cultivate young philanthropists who will follow the learned traditions of giving and serving their community throughout their lives. Each year, the Community Foundation of Grundy County allocates funds for the youth to grant to charitable organizations serving Grundy County.

The Youth Philanthropy Program promotes youth development and experiences of philanthropy, encourages programs and services that address concerns of our youth, engages youth and adults in partnership, and builds a future of strong community leaders and philanthropists.

Like most things in 2020, this year has been the most challenging year for our Youth Philanthropy Program. With the restrictions schools had to follow this year, including cutting many extracurricular activities, not all of our local high schools were able to participate. I was thrilled to have Gardner-South Wilmington High School and Seneca High School able to participate, despite our constant battle with changing restrictions, technology issues, and schedule changes as schools went from e-learning to in-person learning and activities began again.

It is with great pleasure that I announce this year’s grant recipients from the Youth Philanthropy Groups.

Gardner-South Wilmington High School

• $2,100 to Catholic Charities for mobile food distribution and emergency services.

• $1,000 to CASA of River Valley to support children in Grundy County.

• $700 for the GSW Student Assistance Fund to help students attending Gardner-South Wilmington High School with unmet needs.

• $600 to Grundy County Health Department to be used within the Mental Health Division.

• $300 to the Exhibit Fine Arts Gallery to be used for youth programming.

• $300 to the DITR High School and College Trapshooting Foundation to be used for youth programming.

Seneca High School

• $1,500 to CASA of River Valley to support children in Grundy County.

• $1,500 to Illinois Department of Natural Resources to benefit youth programs and education.

• $1,000 to Reclaimed to be used for a mobile food pantry in Seneca.

• $1,000 to Seneca Food Pantry to be used to benefit those in need in the Seneca area.

The Youth Philanthropy Program is one that really could not happen without the help of others. I am so very thankful to the students and school personnel who continue to see the benefit in this program. And I cannot say enough about our local nonprofits that are willing to present to our youth about their programs and services.

While this past year has given us many obstacles and setbacks, it also has given us many positive things. Being able to work with local youth to distribute $10,000 to organizations serving Grundy County is at the top of my list. Congratulations to all this year’s award recipients.

– Devan Gagliardo is program director for Community Foundation of Grundy County.