Students “Pay It Forward” via nonprofit philanthropy initiative

Pictured left to right are Matt Kresic, chief executive officer of Homes for Kids; Andrea Reihard; Leanna Hartsough; Jena Bushongl Emily Young; Tabitha Richmond; Danette Palmer, marketing and development manager for HFK; and Tony Potts, president, Bikes for Kids.

Pictured left to right are Matt Kresic, chief executive officer of Homes for Kids; Andrea Reihard; Leanna Hartsough; Jena Bushongl Emily Young; Tabitha Richmond; Danette Palmer, marketing and development manager for HFK; and Tony Potts, president, Bikes for Kids.

Members of Youngstown State University’s Student Nonprofit Leadership Organization awarded $2,000 to Homes For Kids Inc. through the Pay It Forward: Student Philanthropy Initiative.

Homes for Kids, in collaboration with Bikes For Kids, plans to use the funding for the Bicycling Equals Empowerment Program this summer.

The Pay It Forward Initiative helps students learn how to be engaged citizens and to understand the important role philanthropy plays in the health of local communities. The initiative addresses critical economic needs in the Mahoning Valley while providing an opportunity for students to experience the grant process of soliciting, reviewing, interviewing and awarding funding.

“Through a democratic process, the students reviewed applications from over 25 regional nonprofit organizations that met the specific guidelines relating to animal welfare, veteran outreach and youth education,” said Laura Dewberry, director, YSU Center for Nonprofit Leadership. “The students then subjected each application through a rigorous vetting process, and chose one well-deserving organization to receive their available funding this year.”

The initiative began with seed money from Ohio Campus Compact in 2010, and the students have sustained the initiative through their own fundraising efforts over the last four years. In total, participating students have awarded nearly $40,000 to regional nonprofit organizations. Additionally, participating students are required to perform 15 hours of community service.

HFK specializes in Treatment Foster Care and home-based behavioral health treatment serving 1,300 children annually. BEEP is a program that supports transitional aged youth ages 14 to 18, and foster children who often experience poor health outcomes, are low-income, and who have emotional and behavioral difficulties with becoming successful and independent participants in the community. During this summer program, participating youth will ride their bicycles on the Niles Greenway Bike Trail as well as learn how to repair and maintain their bicycle and bike safety. The Pay It Forward funds will purchase new bikes for all participants.

For more information on Pay It Forward, Student Nonprofit Leadership Organization or YSU’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership, contact Dewberry at 330-941-1870 or LJMcCaskey@ysu.edu.