Student members of the Community Foundation of Howard County’s Youth in Philanthropy program meet in January prior to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing guidelines. Pictured left to right seated away from the table are Hunter Brown (Wilde Lake High School), Ali DaCosta-Paul (Oakland Mills), Nica Vasquez (Wilde Lake), Lexi Nguyen (Atholton), Tyler May (Oakland Mills) and Devin Tyler (Glenelg Country School), and pictured left to right seated around the table are Alex Oh (River Hill), Abby O’Brien (River Hill), Tia Yu (Howard), Daniel Hersey (Glenelg Country School), Kyle Marshall (Wilde Lake), Tami Akinrelere (Long Reach), Bryn Schwartz (Centennial), Navya Natarajan (Centennial) and Anwar Perry (Reservoir)

Student-led group awards four Howard County nonprofits with $10,000 to combat COVID-19 and starts 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 Inc. ($3,000), Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center ($2,000) and Chase Brexton Health Services ($1,000).

In addition to the grant awards, YIP launched a fundraising campaign for a second round of grants. The participating students will reach out to their social networks and school communities to solicit donations, which 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, the Community Foundation will match gifts to the YIP Fund in the next month.

Youth in Philanthropy 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 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.

When COVID-19 interrupted the school year, the YIP students all agreed to continue in the program and shifted their focus to 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,” said 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 child care 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.”

The Youth in Philanthropy program was established by Jeffrey Boutwell, a Community Foundation volunteer.

“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,” Boutwell said. “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.”

Bridges to Housing Stability Inc. received $3,000 in YIP’s first round of grants 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 received $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,” said 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 received $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,” said 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 received $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.”

The Community Foundation of Howard County serves as a knowledgeable, trusted partner that forges connections between donors and nonprofit organizations to provide impactful investments in Howard County. The foundation has awarded more than $25 million in grants to organizations delivering human service, arts and cultural, educational and civic programs. Money for the grant programs comes primarily from income generated by the foundation’s endowment supported by more than 300 funds established by Howard County businesses, families and individuals. For more information, visit CFHoCo.org or call 410-730-7840.

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Scott E

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