Youth in Philanthropy Program Announces COVID-19 Grant Awards

Youth in Philanthropy Program Announces COVID-19 Grant Awards

Student-led group to award four Howard County nonprofits with $10,000 to combat COVID-19 and start fundraising campaign for second round of student-initiated grants.

A 15-member student panel from the Community Foundation of Howard County’s Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program has selected four nonprofits for its first-ever community grant awards. The grants total $10,000 and will be awarded to the Community Action Council of Howard County ($4,000), Bridges to Housing Stability ($3,000), Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center ($2,000) and Chase Brexton Health Services ($1,000).

The YIP grants come after two rounds and $407,500 in funding from the HoCoRespond effort, a collaborative funding group comprised of the Community Foundation of Howard County (CFHoCo), the Horizon Foundation, the United Way of Central Maryland and the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County working to provide immediate impact for COVID-19 relief. On top of that, CFHoCo donors have distributed an additional $116,500 from donor advised funds directly to Howard County nonprofits during the crisis.

Youth in Philanthropy, a new effort from the Community Foundation, was established in 2019 to provide opportunities for high school students to learn about philanthropy firsthand. The YIP inaugural class consists of 15 sophomores and juniors representing nine different Howard County high schools. The students learn about community nonprofits, explore the fundraising and grant process and tackle local issues such as homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, environmental issues, arts and cultural opportunities. Youth in Philanthropy empowers students to solicit and evaluate grant applications and award funds based on need and effectiveness to nonprofit organizations in Howard County.

Inaugural Youth in Philanthropy Class
(left to right seated away from table) Hunter Brown, Ali DaCosta-Paul, Nica Vasquez, Lexi Nguyen, Tyler May, Devin Tyler. (left to right seated around table) Alex Oh, Abby O’Brien, Tia Yu, Daniel Hersey, Kyle Marshall, Tami Akinrelere, Bryn Schwartz, Navya Natarajan, Anwar Perry

When COVID-19 interrupted the school year, the YIP students all agreed to continue in the program and shifted their focus on helping their neighbors through the pandemic. Five teams of three students each researched local nonprofits and compiled a list of charities to nominate for grants. The group met virtually to talk through the nominations and discuss the merits of each nominee.

“We are so thrilled to be chosen by the Youth in Philanthropy team for this funding,” stated Jen Broderick, executive director of Bridges to Housing Stability. “Already more than a quarter of our current clients have been affected by the crisis through loss of employment, cut in job hours or childcare not being available so they lost their jobs. This funding through the YIP grant allows Bridges to continue to ramp up our efforts to provide food and essential need items, rent assistance, help to access benefits and support with getting re-employed or finding additional employment to make ends meet. It is wonderful that this group of thoughtful Howard County youth are thinking about their neighbors who are struggling with housing and wanting to make a long-term impact to keep them safe, stable and housed.”

In addition to the grant awards, YIP is also announcing a student-initiated fundraising campaign. The students will reach out to their social networks and school communities to solicit donations for a second round of grants. All gifts are tax deductible and can be submitted online through the Youth in Philanthropy Fund at the Community Foundation. To maximize the impact made by a second round of YIP grants, CFHoCo will match gifts to the YIP Fund in the next month.

“All 15 of our YIP members did a great job learning about the coronavirus emergency relief needs of our community and awarding grants that can make a real difference to those affected most by the pandemic,” said Jeffrey Boutwell, a foundation volunteer and donor who established the program. “It was their idea to continue these efforts, and we’re so pleased to help YIP launch a second round of fundraising and grant making under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Howard County.”

Here’s more information on each of the four selected Howard County nonprofits with a note on why each was chosen:

Bridges to Housing Stability Inc.: $3,000 to provide basic supplies, food and emergency financial assistance to households destabilized by COVID-19.

“Advocating for Bridges to Housing Stability was an easy choice for me,” said Anwar Perry a junior from Reservoir High School. “I have a strong conviction that housing is a human right. I think it’s a shame that so many people in a community as affluent as Howard County don’t know where they will lay their heads each night. Bridges helps to address and alleviate this fear by securing housing for those in need.”

Chase Brexton Health Services: $1,000 to provide urgent access to food and rental assistance to Howard County patients experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic.

“We chose Chase Brexton Health Care because medical care is always a priority, especially now,” commented Kyle Marshall, a Wilde Lake High School sophomore. “Chase Brexton prides itself on nondiscriminatory care which is important considering many have lost health insurance due to job losses caused by the pandemic. We also appreciate their telehealth services which allow people to access care for mental and physical health while still exercising social distancing.”

Community Action Council of Howard County: $4,000 to support the increased demand for services at the Howard County Food Bank.

“The CAC actively serves the community, providing food and housing to those in need,” stated Navya Natarajan, a junior at Centennial High School. “The organization’s nonprofit efforts have a significant impact on the lives of those seeking support, especially in times when there is a greater need for this assistance.”

Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center: $2,000 to support the increased need for crisis and homeless services in Howard County as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Grassroots provides multiple solutions for the current pandemic including shelter, food, suicide prevention and 24/7 crisis relief services,” said Bryn Schwartz, a sophomore at Centennial High School. “I personally believe it checks off all of the boxes for what our community needs right now, and the grant will further help their mission, which I fully support.”