The KIDS PLUS Youth In Philanthropy Board had another successful year helping young leaders gain board experience while promoting community engagement and volunteerism. The Board, made up of high school students, awarded $20,069 in 20 grants to youth-led projects all across the region. This grantmaking was made possible through support from the Minnesota Power Foundation and a challenge grant made by Scott and Holly Martin that was matched by other members of the Northland Foundation's Emeritus Trustee Group.
The young people and mentors held grant meetings in October, January, and April to review and make funding decisions on applications written by children and youth requesting up to $1,000 each.
“The young board members, guided by adult mentors, approach grantmaking with thoughtful consideration and heart. They weigh each proposal, ask tough questions, and ultimately vote to fund projects all over the region,” stated Tony Sertich, Northland Foundation’s President. “The skills they develop by participating in Youth In Philanthropy will serve them and their communities well into the future.”
The board included 15 high school students from Cloquet, Duluth, Ely, Hibbing, McGregor, Moose Lake, and Superior, guided by four adult representatives: Jamie Adams, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Brad Flynn, ALLETE; Cheryl Meld, McGregor KIDS PLUS/Something Cool, Inc.; and Tim Stratioti, Superior Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland.
For the 21st year, the KIDS PLUS Youth Leadership Academy joined Duluth and Superior area students with adult mentors to build their capacity as leaders. A total of 45 ninth graders and 14 mentors participated in the nine-month-long series of workshops to help hone their confidence to be leaders and strengthen their community knowledge, teamwork and communication skills.
Early in the spring, the youth selected St. Ann's Residence for their service project. The students spent weeks planning every detail, raising funds and collecting supplies, then spent a full Saturday gardening, painting, cleaning, and hosting a fun event for the older adult residents that included games, activities, entertainment, food, and prizes.
"The youth leaders and mentors gave a wonderful gift to the residents of St. Ann's by providing them with a day of fun, meaningful activities and chore services. Residents shared their great appreciation through their countless smiles, heartwarming words, and thank you notes," said Lynn Haglin, Northland Foundation's Vice President/KIDS PLUS Director.
At the year-end celebration for the students, family members, and mentors, some staff and residents from St. Ann's spoke about the service project. They shared that some of the residents said it was the best day they had ever had. It was a testament to young people's ability to be exemplary leaders and resources in their communities, and to the magic that happens when youth and adults of all ages come together.
Special thanks to those whose support enables the Northland Foundation to offer this program, which costs $1,600 per student per year, at no charge to the participants.