Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 28, 2013

Local youths award big bucks to nonprofits

TRAVERSE CITY — Pete’s Place Youth Shelter received some news for which to be thankful on Thanksgiving eve.

The homeless shelter for youths in Traverse City will pick up an $11,500 grant from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council.

“Are you kidding?” said Norvilla Bennett, youth services director for Third Level Crisis Intervention Center — the organization that runs Pete’s Place — upon learning of the windfall Wednesday afternoon. “Wow, awesome. Happy Thanksgiving to Pete’s Place.”

Pete’s Place was one of 23 organizations selected this month to receive some of the $70,000 in grant money awarded by high school students from Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Antrim and Kalkaska counties who served on the foundation’s Youth Advisory Council.

The money comes from the Community Foundation’s Youth Endowment. The endowment was established in the 1990s through a matching grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that came with a caveat: the Community Foundation needed to involve local students in endowment management, said Rex O’Connor, a Community Foundation board member and an advisor to the youth council.

“In their mind, that’s how you perpetuate philanthropy in your community, by teaching it to younger students,” O’Connor said.

Youth council members divided into groups by county, researched grant applications, evaluated presentations from the applicants, and ultimately recommended grant recipients for final approval by the Community Foundation board.

The board is expected to formally approve the council’s recipients during a meeting early next month, O’Connor said.

Autumn Good, a junior at Kingsley High School, said her time on the council taught her a lot about how the nonprofit sector functions and about local community groups.

“I learned there is a lot more that goes into it than just ‘hey, we need some money,’” Good said. “And there is a lot of demand for funding that’s not being met right now.”

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