As we approached this year’s competitive grant cycle, we saw an opportunity to infuse creative strategies into our grantmaking processes. One way we were able to explore this was a collaboration with Waterloo Youth City Council to select one grant recipient.
Waterloo Youth City Council, comprising students from all four high schools in Waterloo, offers a platform for young people to think critically, debate, and find common ground on issues affecting our city. They have championed teen mental health and received statewide recognition earlier this year for their efforts in lobbying a bill into law that mandated mental health resources to be available on every high school student’s ID card across Iowa.
Their dedication to serving Waterloo caught our attention and our Grants Committee saw partnering with these young leaders as an opportunity to amplify their voice in our community.
Students decided to focus their grant decisions on a program benefiting youth in Waterloo. They reviewed applications independently before meeting as a group with our staff to discuss. The students selected Payne Memorial AME Church to receive a $5,000 grant for The Learn Hub, a new after-school initiative that offers literacy, science, and math support to students at the church’s partnering school, Dr. Walter Cunningham School of Excellence. The program’s goal is to equip at-risk students with technology access and a learning environment that fosters responsibility, positive engagement, and interdependent learning.
Waterloo Youth City Council valued the program’s emphasis on education, recognizing its role in shaping success across other areas of life. One student has been conducting research on the history of Waterloo churches through the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and highlighted that Payne Memorial AME is the oldest African-American Church in Waterloo. She finds it inspiring that they are still creating new opportunities to reach and serve youth.
Carol Luce, Waterloo Youth City Council advisor, remarked, “I was really impressed on how well they did their research and their outlook on why they picked the group to receive the funds. All in all it was a great experience”.
We are grateful for this grantmaking partnership and look forward to including Waterloo Youth City Council in our grant recipient site visits and celebration event in 2024!
Learn more about this year’s competitive grant recipients here.