Local Youth Grant $11,000

Local Youth Grant $11,000

On Friday evening, youth leaders granted $11,000 to 14 organizations in Del Norte and Tribal Lands in collaboration with Building Healthy Communities. Manuel Saavedra, age 20, says the grant-making process was an opportunity for them to experience having the decision-making power. “It usually feels unattainable,” Saavedra says, “You often hear people say ‘If only I could change this.’ This opportunity let us get behind the steering wheel and get to choose what work we want to see create those changes in our community.” While Saavedra says the responsibility was intimidating, it was also exciting, and he saw his team grow as leaders. “Sometimes, I would take a step back and just watch everyone. It made me really proud seeing everyone step up to that leadership role.”

The youth leaders forming the Youth Philanthropy team, Manuel Saavedra, Steven Williams, Tyler Harrison, Teng Lee, Alex Fallman, Ryan Wait, and Chris McDonald, started work in November of 2015, and dedicated countless hours of volunteer work to manage the grant-making process from start to finish. The group learned a lot from the process, and further developed as leaders.

Michelle Carrillo, Youth Program Manager with Building Healthy Communities, says she also saw the youth “develop a deep respect and appreciation for people’s time and a higher level of care for what people in the community are trying to do.” The group received 21 grant applications, and unfortunately, had to decide what projects to partially fund and what applications to turn down. “It was so hard to say no to any of them,” says Carrillo, “All of the applications were great, and many of them were actually submitted by youth who had never written grants before, and that was exciting.”

Richard Myers with the Golden Eagle Freestyle Wrestling Club, received a grant for his youth wrestling group located in Weitchpec that currently has 19 youth attending and “one and a half well-used mats.” Additionally, the Tribe recently declared a state of emergency in Weitchpec due to the alarming rates of suicide, occurring within weeks of each other. “There was a call-out for male mentors to help our youth,” he says. “And I wondered what youth are doing for themselves to release stress and excess energy. Wrestling changed my life, and I knew I could use it to help. There were a lot of youth who wanted to wrestle, but had no transportation to get to classes that were a two hour drive away.”

“The grant won’t just be for wrestling,” Myers adds “It will be used to bring in more physical activity opportunities to our underserved community. I am very grateful for what Building Healthy Communities is doing.”

Carrillo summarizes, “I have a sincere appreciation for how much time the youth leaders put into this. It just shows how much they care about this community. They are not the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today.”

Photo Credit: Nancy Raskauskas-Coons