Teens to award $20,000 in grants to area nonprofits

It was a proud moment for Laurie Elliott when she picked her daughter up from a Teens for Tomorrow meeting and the high school student couldn’t wait to share with her mom what she had learned about local nonprofits.

“She got in the car and said, ‘Mom, I learned so much today,’” Laurie Elliott recalled. “I served on nonprofit boards and did volunteer work before I had her, but I don’t think I ever really talked to her about what I did, so it’s been neat to have her discover it on her own.”

Her daughter Jessica Elliott, 16, is one of several Rock Island County, Illinois, and Scott County, Iowa, high school students who made up this year’s Quad Cities Community Foundation Bend’s youth philanthropy group Teens for Tomorrow. Throughout the year, the students immerse themselves in the grant process by learning about community needs, developing a grant opportunity, evaluating applications, making site visits, and awarding grants.

The students will award 2017 Quad Cities Community Foundation Teens for Tomorrow Grants this Tuesday, May 9 during a special celebration and reception. The students in Teens for Tomorrow will also be honored with Modern Woodmen of America’s Hometown Hero Award.

2017 Teens for Tomorrow grantees are: 

• Child Abuse Council—$1500

• Churches United of the Quad City Area—$2,000

• Davenport Community Schools (Mid City High School) —$1,200

• Family Resources—$2,500

• Hand in Hand—$1,500

• Hope at the BRICK House, Inc.—$750

• Living Proof Exhibit—$1,250

• New Kingdom Trailriders —$2,500

• Rick’s House of Hope (Vera French Community Mental Health Center)—$1,800

• World Relief Moline—$2,500

• WQPT Quad Cities PBS—$1,000

• The 180 Zone—$1,500

The group received 29 applications for funding this year, totaling more than $55,000. Twelve organizations were awarded a total of $20,000.

Jessica Elliott said her favorite part of the grant process was doing site visits to local organizations to learn about what they do and what their needs are. “It was so cool to go out and see the places where we could give funding and see the good things they’re doing in our community,” she said. “That was the most rewarding.”

The difficulty came in deciding who would receive money for the year, she added. “We came together as a group and making those decisions was hard,” she recalled. “But then, after we had written everything on the board, we could step back and there was this great list of nonprofits doing really important work in the community.”

Community Foundation staff, and the board of directors, could see that too—and added a little surprise into the mix as the T4T students were making grant decisions. 

“Because of an additional grant from the board and our endowment, we were able to double the dollars that would be granted, allowing the students to recommend to the board 12 grantees, totaling more than $20,000 this year,” said Kelly Thompson, vice president of grant making and community initiatives. “We are really looking forward to celebrating with our grantees and with the students who poured so much time and energy in to this process.”

Laurie Elliott said watching her daughter learn and grow was a great experience. “It’s a wonderful program because they kids really are in charge,” she said. “From the beginning, it’s clear they are depended on to do the work.”

Because the work is so hands-on—students schedule the site visits, interview grantees, conduct research, and make the final recommendations to the board—they gain valuable life skills, Laurie Elliott added. “They learned exactly what philanthropy means and what nonprofits do,” she said. “They learned to work as a team and they had difficult decisions. There was a lot of responsibility learned.”

Jessica Elliott said there’s no doubt in her mind that she will participate again next year. The call for new members has already started. T4T membership applications are available now through May 31. Details are here