Board offers HOPE to local youth

Program funding coming to an end, manager says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
-A +A
Local youth are helping each other change the community for the better through a series of grants, but their program could be coming to an end. The Grants Advisory Board for Youth is a pilot program of the Placer Community Foundation, located in Auburn. It was founded in 2007 through a partnership with the foundation, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, the Sierra Health Foundation and Placer County Peer Court, according to Jessica Hubbard, philanthropic services manager with the Placer Community Foundation. Each year since then the Grants Advisory Board for Youth, or GABY, has awarded several HOPE Grants to youth groups throughout Placer County to support projects that directly benefit other youth, said Erin Stone, adult coordinator for the board. This year the board is made up of 19 members who range in age from 13 to 17 years old. The board received 15 HOPE Grant applications and was able to award 13 of them, for an amount totaling $13,000, Stone said. “The board is selected in the summer and we start doing some training for them so that they understand what philanthropy is, what are the duties and responsibilities of sitting on a board and how we make group decisions,” Stone said. “In late August, early September when school first starts … we put them to work with marketing the actual HOPE Grant opportunity. They go out and speak to other youth groups in Placer County.” When GABY members receive grant applications they split into three groups in which they examine the individual projects and hear presentations by members of the youth groups, Stone said. When GABY members have made their choices they make recommendations to the Placer Community Foundation’s Grants Committee and the grants are awarded, Hubbard said. Placer High School junior Zac Hersh, 17, who has been a member of GABY for two years, said the experience has made a big impact on his life. “The biggest thing I have taken away from it is in the beginning … we go through team bonding things, and we get in different groups,” Hersh said. “And I think that is the thing that’s impacted me the most, because I was kind of shy and that got me out of that. Helping people and giving out grants is great, but it’s also a very personal experience sitting on the board.” Hersh said there are rewarding and challenging things about serving on the board. “The most challenging thing is not having enough money to give to every group, because every group that presents has a quality solution to the problems in our community, and you want to fund them all,” he said. “And the most rewarding thing is seeing the projects happen and knowing in some way you helped.” Board member Kyle Pawlak, 16, a junior at Granite Bay High School, said the HOPE Grant gives the youth of Placer County a chance to be responsible for their own communities. “Giving community members the chance to do something with this money … really makes individual community members responsible for what’s going on and gives them the chance to take on that responsibility and do something that is good for everyone,” Pawlak said. GABY member Desiree Stone, 13, who attends Spring View Middle School in Rocklin, said she learned several things by serving on the board. “I learned what philanthropy was, and I learned better communication skills,” Desiree said. “I’m the youngest member on the board, so I learned to think on a higher level and elaborate more with my fellow board members.” The board awarded the Auburn Hip Hop Congress a $1,500 HOPE Grant for its “Sound for Change” project. The grant allowed the group to purchase its own sound equipment including microphones, cords, speakers, stands and a public address system, said Placer High freshman Vanessa Pohley, 15, a member of the Congress. “Most of the time during our workshops we do not have sound, and for the bigger show during the summer Hip Hop Congress had a sponsor that paid for the whole thing,” Pohley said. “This is going to make it easier for us to do all eight shows for the year.” According to Hubbard, because GABY is a pilot program, its funding is ending this year unless private philanthropists wish to continue supporting it. Those interested in supporting the program can call the Placer Community Foundation at (530) 885-4920. “This has been a very, very worthwhile and successful program, and we would love to see it continue,” Hubbard said. Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------ Grants Advisory Board for Youth (GABY) What: A pilot program facilitated through the Placer Community Foundation in which teens award grants to Placer County youth groups. To support financially: Call The Placer Community Foundation at (530) 885-4920 Upcoming event: End of year celebration from noon-3 p.m. May 22 in Penryn For information on the event or GABY: E-mail Erin Stone at or