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A Lesson in Charity for Guilford Youth

For the third year in a row, the Guilford High School Interact Club Youth Advisory Group (YAG) is contributing to the community, awarding a total of $10,000 to five local organizations.

YAG is a student branch of the Guilford Foundation, whose purpose is to promote philanthropy in the youth community. The partnership formed in 2010.

"Our goal was to increase philanthropy and promote awareness among students in town. We said, 'For every dollar you raise, we'll match it up to $5,000 a year for three years,'" said Guilford Foundation Executive Director Liza Petra. "And in addition, we'll also start a fund for you at the foundation that you can tap into going forward that will generate income each year above and beyond that...They really amazingly stepped up."

This year's grants were awarded to the Guilford Free Library to create a garden on its property as part of the summer reading program ($1,000); to the Parks & Recreation Department to support the Jacobs Beach improvement plan ($2,000); to Social Services to help with its Back to School Program providing certain children with new backpacks, lunch boxes, and school supplies ($2,000); to Women & Family Life Center for family programs and to help working women get back into the workforce ($2,000); and to Guilford High School Music Boosters to help pay for new marching band uniforms ($3,000).

According to Petra, the initiative has been a major success in accomplishing its two missions: engaging Guilford's youth in the world of philanthropy, including fundraising, assessments of local needs, and grant writing, and also increasing the support provided to local organizations through new sources.

Various fundraisers are held throughout the year to help support this program. Petra said one of the neat things about this initiative is that the students get to learn about several factors that contribute to being a philanthropist.

"This is a group of high school students who have to learn all about the grant process," including creating a grant application form and going into to the community to interact with the various organizations providing the services, Petra said. "They also in the meantime had to raise the money to give it out."

The grant application process begins in April, when the students choose the organizations to which they'd like to distribute the funds raised. The foundation board then ratifies those recommendations.

Over the last three years, YAG has invested more than $22,000 into the community, and Petra said it has been incredible to watch the young adults work.

"They've really come full stride and it's been an amazingly successful partnership," said Petra. "Not only are they doing good in the community, but being part of this process has really made a difference in their own lives and in their own development going into the adult world."

Students interested in participating in YAG must be a member of the GHS Interact Club and should contact the Laura Samperi in the GHS Guidance Office, Allen Jacob of Rotary Club, or the Guilford Foundation at
www.guilfordfoundation.org.

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