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The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ 2016 Class of Youth Philanthropy Interns awarded a total of $50,000 to several grant recipients at the Foundation’s annual Founders’ Day event, held August 11 at Windber Recreation Park. The Founders’ Day program is a report to the community, donors, grantees, and partners about the work that the Foundation has accomplished over the past year. This year, in addition to reporting on the Foundation’s financial growth and donor support, Executive Director and President Mike Kane featured their support of the Field-to-Fork Agricultural Incubator located at Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center.

“This shared-use community kitchen space will help inspire economic development in three ways: by enabling access to a commercial kitchen to farmers and other food entrepreneurs who want to make safe and legal food items to sell; by providing GJCTC students with unique training opportunities as they assist with the preparation, packaging, and marketing of these local value-added food products; and by increasing opportunities for community members to support farmers, vocational education, and the local economy by increasing access to farm-fresh and local foods,” said Kane.

The Founders’ Day celebration also marked the culmination of the Foundation’s eight-week Youth Philanthropy Internship program. The interns assessed community needs through research, site visits, and interviews. Through this process, they determined a need for educating youth about the dangers of drugs while simultaneously helping them get involved in activities and encouraging residents to experience our region’s abundant recreational opportunities. The interns worked in two teams (Explore Opportunities and Rec the Alleghenies) and each team had up to $25,000 available for grantmaking. They issued Requests for Proposals in mid-July to address the needs stated above. Thirteen community groups submitted proposals for the interns to review, and the teams selected the following organizations to receive grants.

The Explore Opportunities Team awarded $25,000 to BOTTLEWORKS Ethnic Arts Center’s Mindfulness Prevention Program. They will utilize the Mindful Schools curriculum and Project Alert to teach students about drugs and making positive decisions. The Project Alert Supplemental Resource Manual will also be used to inform the students on DXM, painkillers, sedatives, steroids, stimulants, other drugs, and alcohol while simultaneously teaching them how to make mindful and responsible decisions. With this program Bottleworks will also offer Mindful Arts Practices and Art Education to the students involved. This will provide the students with an opportunity to learn about drug prevention and also about other activities taking place in the community that they may have been unaware of previously, as an alternative to drugs.

The Rec the Alleghenies Initiative (REC IT!) Team funded three different programs that all promote the abundant recreational opportunities this region has to offer.

  1. Allegheny Unlimited Care Providers will be awarded $5,000 to fund the Rec the Alleghenies Expo, which will focus on introducing opportunities for active lifestyles by way of informational booths and stimulating interactive demonstrations from a number of groups, clubs, programs, and organizations within the Alleghenies region. Each participating organization will have a table at the expo, along with information, membership sign-up sheets, equipment to test, and other interactive activities.
  2. The Cambria County Conservation District will be awarded $16,000 to fund the Nature Discovery Through Kayaking program. This will fund the purchase of kayaks, paddle boards, paddles, safety equipment, and a trailer to enable District educators to feature water sports for educational events, beginning in the summer of 2017 with the Wilmore Dam Run & Row Event, Family Day at Duman Lake, and the Hinckston Run Reservoir Float Tour. The equipment will also be utilized as an educational tool to teach a large demographic, from young children to adults, about boat safety and discovering nature through our waterways.
  3. The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority will receive $4,000 toward the Cambria County Trails Series, which includes the Path of the Flood Historic Races, Ghost Town Trail Challenge, and Jim Mayer Trail Family Fun Run. The events showcase the natural beauty of Cambria County and promote the awareness and usage of the three trails. In its inaugural year, the trail series has shown much success and this grant will allow the opportunity for it to grow for hikers, bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“The interns would like to thank all of the community members and organizations who took time to help them over the course of their eight-week program. It is through their site visits and meetings that interns were able to identify and fund these needs,” said Kate McGrath, senior intern.

“They are also appreciative of the board and staff from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and The Heinz Endowments for providing this opportunity for the fourth consecutive year,” said David Saylor, senior intern.

The Rec the Alleghenies team was led by Kate McGrath and included: JT Durica, Megan Paonessa, Max Myers, and Emily Sayler. The Explore Opportunities team was led by David Saylor and included: Marshal Engleka, Olivia Oravec, Nicholas Yost, and Emily Brazill.

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