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Education

LT, Naz students to award grants as part of new Youth Community Changemakers program

Students at Lyons Township High School and Nazareth Academy who are interested in philanthropy and community service now have a golden opportunity to experience what it’s like to work with nonprofit organizations in the “real world.”

The high schools are teaming up with the Community Memorial Foundation on the brand-new Youth Community Changemakers, an eight-week leadership program where juniors and seniors learn how the grant-funding process works. At the end of the program, they will decide which area nonprofits will be awarded $15,000 in grant funding.

The program is sponsored by the foundation, Burjan family and Allow Good, an Evanston-based nonprofit that developed the curriculum. Admission to the program is selective, and only 25 students total from the two schools will be admitted. The program begins in January and ends in April, and it will meet on Sundays at Plymouth Place Senior Living in La Grange Park.

Tom Fuechtmann, senior program officer at the Community Memorial Foundation, said the foundation wanted to launch the Youth Community Changemakers program because it recognizes the importance of teaching young people about philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. The program, which will be led by instructors from Allow Good, will teach the students about the role of nonprofits in society, as well as how to identify a community’s needs and how to solicit grant requests from nonprofits.

The students will review the grant applications from the nonprofits, conduct on-site visits and choose as many as three groups to receive a portion of the $15,000.

“Young people are our future, and we all have a vested interest in helping them understand the role of nonprofits in our communities,” Fuechtmann said. “We’re very excited about this program and the support that the community has shown for it.”

Lyons Township Principal Brian Waterman is very excited about the opportunity students will have in the program, and he said many students are interested in applying to be a part of it.

“This is a tremendously unique opportunity for any student who’s interested in working with nonprofits or community service after graduation,” he said. “They’ll understand the process that nonprofits go through to determine which charities are beneficial to support.”

Nazareth President Deborah Tracy said service is an important part of the students’ education at the school, so many of the students are looking forward to getting involved with the program.

“Partnering with the Community Memorial Foundation and Lyons Township presented a great opportunity for our students, who are already embedded in a life of giving back,” she said. “They’ll learn more about service organizations in the community, and the fact that they will make decisions about which should receive funding is an amazing opportunity for our young people. It will serve them well personally, and for some, professionally.”

The deadline to apply for the Youth Community Changemakers program is Nov. 7. The program is open to juniors and seniors from Lyons Township and Nazareth.

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