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Youth Philanthropy grants to help nonprofits serve children, improve communities

Jeff Himler
| Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, 3:51 p.m.

The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County has awarded grants totaling $50,000 to local nonprofits through its Youth Philanthropy Internship Program.

Two teams of 11 interns, ages 16-19, from seven local schools each selected three grant recipients to share half of the funding.

The team of Naomi Blackburn and Noah Richason, both of Greensburg, Julia Dengler of Mt. Pleasant, Zachary Hegedus of Jeannette and Abigail Moore of Seward made the following grant awards to support vulnerable children:

• CASA (Court-Appointed Specials Advocates) of Westmoreland, $10,000 to increase advocacy and supply backpacks and school materials to abused or neglected children;

• Westmoreland Children First, $8,000 to provide emergency beds and bedding to children through a new Beds for Kids program;

• Seton Hill Child Services, $7,000 to cover project expenses for an Early Head Start program that offers education and support services to low-income children age 3 or younger.

A second team including Aaron Dominick of Hannastown, Grace Fowler of Leechburg, Katie Handy of Jeannette, Cecilia Markley of Export, Drew Neiderhiser of Latrobe and Bryce Williams of Mt. Pleasant awarded the following grants to assist small municipalities:

• Westmoreland County Land Bank, $10,000 to transform three blighted homes into a community green space on First Avenue in Sutersville;

• Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, $10,000 for a youth-led strategic planning assessment meant to build connections among organizations in Vandergrift and Scottdale;

• Delmont Public Library, $5,000 to help replace the roof of a log cabin used for community events.

During their 11-week summer internship, the participants researched community issues, identified service priorities and devised a process for awarding the grants.

The goal of the program is to involve youth in decision-making, Foundation Executive Director Phil Koch said in a news release. He said the interns “had full ownership of this grant-making process.”

The program is funded by The Heinz Endowments.

Blackburn, a recent graduate of Hempfield Area High School, said her team decided to address “the relationship between child mistreatment and poverty” and is “passionate about ensuring that every child in our community has the necessary resources and relationships they deserve to succeed.”

Williams, who recently graduated from Mt. Pleasant Area High School, said his team agreed to focus on communities with a population of 5,500 or less, to “support small business and recreation, helping to retain young people and attract new residents to Westmoreland's smaller communities.”

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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