Jumpstart Our Youth

The Unity Foundation established Jumpstart Our Youth (JOY), Maine’s only statewide youth philanthropy program, in 2008 with our grantee partner Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG).  Annually, the JOY program teaches more than 5,000 middle and high school students how to evaluate and fund solutions that strengthen local communities – similar to the straightforward approach of Unity Foundation founders Bert and Coral Clifford.  In 2017, several of Maine’s college-based JMG programs began to participate.

In a seamless collaboration with our funding partners Maine Community Foundation and UniTel, Inc. Unity Foundation provided $1,000 for each of the 90+ JMG classrooms to make grants each school year.  They followed a formal grantmaking process and several raise additional funds to provide more grants. They developed volunteer opportunities at the same time.

After ten years, Maine students donated over $688,775 in grants and more than $1,520,000 of volunteer time for a total of more than $2.2 million in support for Maine’s youth-serving nonprofits.  See the Year 10 Annual Report.

Learning how to give smart money teaches our next generation of nonprofit and community leaders and donors how to package their compassion, skills and funds to solve local problems that potentially impact their friends, neighbors and families.  

“The voices of youth will change the lives of homeless youth.”
– Betty Palmer, Exec. Director, Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter