As YOUTHadelphia announced the $25,000 grant for Youth HEALers Stand Up!, the five members started exclaiming from their seats in the audience. The group of teens and young adults, who help youth experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, were stunned.
YOUTHadelphia, the Youth Advisory Committee of the Philadelphia Foundation’s Fund for Children, awards thousands of dollars in grants to youth-led groups each year since 2004. The committee awarded a total of $60,000 to five nonprofits, programs and projects on Thursday. But in the past, the committee had only awarded $5,000 and $10,000 grants to any given group.
This year, in celebration of Philadelphia Foundation’s second century of service to the community, YOUTHadelphia member Luke Macri handed Youth HEALers Stand Up! a $25,000 oversized check, the largest in the committee’s 15-year history.
“I’m sorry…we didn’t even know that,” Daysha Reeves, 23, told the crowd gathered at The HIVE at Spring Point in the Graham Building near City Hall.
Youth HEALers Stand Up! member Dominique Marshall, 21, said the group, which operates through People’s Emergency Center, expected to get $10,000 at the most.
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The grant will fund the group’s summer visioning sessions, where they collect community feedback to create their yearly platform, as well at least three part-time positions within the group so the members can dedicate more time helping the youth, Marshall said.
“I’m just really thankful, honestly,” she added. “I didn’t expect it, but I’m just happy that youth of this generation see what we’re doing is important and see that something little that we’re doing is making a big difference.”
The other recipients of awards this year were:
- Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden, for their high school internship program — $10,000
- Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project, for their work with incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated youth — $10,000
- Lil’ Filmmakers Inc., for training teenage girls interested in media and film projects and careers — $10,000
- Philadelphia Student Union, for expanding their initiatives in Philadelphia public schools — $5,000
YOUTHadelphia members, who attend public and private high schools in Philadelphia, emceed the awards ceremony. The 13 students attended meetings in the foundation’s office every week since October 2018 to go through the grant making and selection process.
“One of the highlights of my four years at the Philadelphia Foundation continues to be YOUTHadelphia,” Philadelphia Foundation president and CEO Pedro Ramos told the crowd during his welcome. “Every Thursday after school, their energy fills our offices, and you get the glimpses of the attention, energy and devotion of these young leaders.”
YOUTHadelphia member N’Dea Jackson, 18, said they chose this year’s priority issues — youth leadership, policing and gun violence — after learning how to research issues they cared about.
“I never knew how to approach looking into a new topic,” Jackson said. “So it really gave me a lot more of an idea of how to start, which is really helpful to me I think for the future, at least academically.”
With help from Aurora Sanchez, YOUTHadelphia program advisor, and Philadelphia Foundation program officer Edurne Irizarry, the members drafted questions for the grant applications, Jackson added.
The committee received 24 applications, which they reviewed and narrowed down to 10 finalists. The students went on site visits to the finalists’ locations during the first and second week of April.
Sanchez, who accompanied the members, said she encouraged them to go to as many visits as possible to help flesh out the applications and see the work supporting youth in Philadelphia.
“If you’re looking for organizations that are really prioritizing young people and really creating space for young people to lead and kind of having adults step into the background and really just lift them up, these are those organizations,” Sanchez added about the grantees.
Jackson realized that the experience of giving away money wasn’t as easy as she thought and many important decisions lead up to it.
“All these organizations that we got to look at were like, amazing, they all did special things for their community,” Jackson said.-30-
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