“The youth involved in this project will develop personal skills ranging from leadership, team-building, responsibility, and problem-solving, which are essential for their futures and simply their every day lives.” The previous sentence was an excerpt from a 2005 Kids First Mini-Grant application that described how the applying youth group felt their project was beneficial to the participating students and the community. This aforementioned benefit statement is why the Community Foundation is pleased to be offering the sixth straight year of the Kids First Mini-Grants program, with the deadline for 2006 applications being February 28th.
The intent of the Kids First Mini-Grants is to help local youth by providing grant monies for youth-initiated projects, which promote community involvement. Over the 6-year span of the Kids First Mini-Grants program, over $92,000 in grant monies has been awarded to area youth projects and organizations.
While only one application was referenced in the opening paragraph of this article, there is a common bond between all youth-groups that apply for Mini-Grant funding. They all see a definitive need for youth development and providing projects and programs that focus on leadership, teamwork, and responsibility serves to benefit the participating youth now and in the future. Looking down the road, the more youth development that takes place now also serves to benefit the greater community later.
In addition, every Kids First Mini-Grant application that is received by CRCF is based on a positive idea, where those who are applying are genuinely trying to do some good, while also having fun. This demonstrates how there is a community of open-minded, forward-thinking youth and youth organizations with great ideas that are hoping to do their part for the community.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Kids First Mini-Grants program is the fact that it is administered by area youth. The Community Foundation’s affiliate youth council, known as the Community Conscious Youth (CCY), reviews the grant applications, gathers the information, and ultimately decides on which applications receive funding. The CCY, which is comprised of students from Jamestown, Southwestern, Maple Grove, and Falconer High Schools, provides a youth-perspective into the process that adults may overlook when reviewing a youth-related grant application. This makes the Mini-Grants selection process a peer-to-peer process. Therefore, once all the applications are received, the CCY meet and make all the decisions regarding applications. There are adult advisors involved in the process but only to help answer questions when they may arise. The bottom line is the Kids First Mini-Grant program not only benefits the youth receiving the monies but also the CCY members who participate in the process, as they learn their own leadership skills and how to work cooperatively in a positive environment.
If your youth group or organization has a project or passion that could benefit the Chautauqua Region, then please apply for a Kids First Mini-Grant. Applications can be obtained by calling the Foundation office at 661-3390 or online at www.crcfonline.org. The deadline for 2006 applications is February 28th, so please take advantage of this great opportunity. One of the Community Foundation’s greatest pleasures is to assist area youth and to help give these youth projects the wings needed to fly!
Published in the January 22nd edition of The Post-Journal