Maine Students Kick-off 6th Year of Philanthropy in State’s Only Student-Driven Giving Program

November 2013

–Will Bring Total Giving to nearly $400,000–

  (Unity–) More than 3,500 Maine middle and high school students will launch the sixth annual Jumpstart Our Youth (JOY) annual grant program this month to coincide with National Philanthropy Day, an annual day of recognition for those who are committed to charitable work and funding. The Jobs for Maine’s Graduates students from more than 60 classrooms across the state will begin to research what philanthropy is, examine local needs and then determine how to award a $1000 grant in their own communities through an application and evaluation process.  The philanthropy project is embedded in the JMG curriculum.

The grant funds are provided each year by the Unity Foundation of Unity, Maine, the Maine Community Foundation and UniTel, Inc.

“We are continually rewarded with the creativity and compassion that the students bring to the JOY program,” said Larry Sterrs, CEO of the Unity Foundation which founded the program.  They have given away close to $325,000 in five years and have found very meaningful ways to support their local communities. They volunteer, host clothing and food drives, and support their peers through scholarships. Maine is in good hands as these young people begin to take lead roles in supporting communities.”

In the JOY program, students study how to give “smart” grants; they match grantmaking with class interests and local challenges, host presentations by applicants, evaluate applications and ultimately determine how to award the dollars provided by the funders. Some groups raise additional funds on their own to augment the grant totals.

Over five years, Maine students have contributed $318,000 through 469 distinct grants to large and small nonprofits across Maine. To complement the funding, students arrange volunteer commitments – from organizing food and clothing drives for local pantries to building houses with Habitat for Humanity.