Fresh off its 20th anniversary, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation’s Youth for Community Improvement program this year focused its grantmaking on COVID-19 relief as well as access and equity across the greater Worcester community.

WORCESTER, MA – Fresh off its 20th anniversary, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation’s Youth for Community Improvement program this year focused its grantmaking on COVID-19 relief as well as access and equity across the greater Worcester community.

Pivoting online, nine students from the prior year participated in the 2020 YCI program. This group of high school juniors and seniors represented Bancroft School, Doherty High in Worcester, Grafton High School, Shrewsbury High School and Worcester Technical High School.

COVID-19 was always going to pose a challenge to the way in which YCI has been hosted in years past, said Barbara Fields, GWCF President and CEO. “I’d like to commend Sarah Shugrue, GWCF Program Officer and YCI’s program manager, and each of our students for their resiliency and commitment to making the pivot to an online platform such a success.”

Fields added: “I am always impressed by the students’ energy and curiosity – as leaders and philanthropists – throughout the weeks-long program.”

After three months of research, discussion, and deliberation, the 2020 cohort chose to fund 15 organizations with a total $26,500 in grantmaking. In total, there were 27 requests for funding from the YCI program this year.

From the start, said Shugrue, “it was very easy for the 2020 participants to land on these issues because they understood COVID-19 relief as well as access and equity are among the most pressing issues in our community.”

Shugrue added: “I’m proud of what they were able to fund. These are organizations that are committed to ensuring people’s basic needs are met and/or are working to create space for everyone.”

Each year, Shugrue’s goal is “to see the further evolution of authentic youth voice” among the requests for funding submitted by local nonprofits. “This year, that goal has been met,” she said.

Those organizations chosen to receive funding from YCI 2020 participants are listed below:

  • African Community Education’s ACE Ambassadors: $1,500
    • PROGRAM: Youth development program focused on leadership and advocacy
  • Ansaar of Worcester’s Youth-Led Community Service Projects: $1,500
    • PROGRAM: Series of community engagement activities led by students and informed by community needs assessments
  • Ascentria Community Services’ Racism Dialogues for Youth Advisory Council: $1,000
    • PROGRAM: Youth-led program on racial justice for unaccompanied refugee minors
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest’s Technology Access for Students: $2,000
    • PROGRAM: Purchase laptops and headphones for students
  • City of Worcester Department of Health & Human Services’ City Manager’s Youth Council: $2,000
    • PROGRAM: Youth-led program to support peers
  • Girls, Inc. of Worcester’s Girls Advisory Council: $1,500
    • PROGRAM: Funds to hire a racial justice consultant
  • Hope Coalition’s Peer Leadership Program: $2,000
    • PROGRAM: Social media campaign and virtual meetings to support youth mental health
  • Living in Freedom Together, Inc.’s Youth Outreach & Advocacy Services: $2,000
    • PROGRAM: Mentoring and crisis support for young people
  • My Turn, Inc.’s Fitchburg Employment Plus Program: $1,000
    • PROGRAM: Funds to purchase food, PPE, and technology support for participants
  • Nativity School of Worcester: $1,500
    • PROGRAM: Diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism workshops to support staff and students on the issues of racial justice
  • Pernet Family Health Service, Inc.’s Homework Club: $1,500
    • PROGRAM: A virtual academic and mental health support system for young people
  • Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center’s Pleasant-Piedmont Youth Leadership Council: $2,000
    • PROGRAM: Youth-driven virtual activity programs
  • Regional Environmental Council, Inc.’s YouthGROW: $2,000
    • PROGRAM: YouthGROW, or Youth Growing Organics in Worcester, supports youth farming jobs
  • Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Relief: $3,000
    • PROGRAM: Support for youth to deliver PPE, groceries, and meals to community members
  • Worcester Youth Center’s Civic Partnership Program: $2,000
    • PROGRAM: Support for a new, youth-led civic engagement program

More information on the YCI program can be found on the GWCF website.


Greater Worcester Community Foundation

The Greater Worcester Community Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Central Massachusetts residents by connecting donors to high-impact nonprofit organizations and community partners. Since 1975, GWCF has worked in partnership with donors to build a nearly $160 million endowment and award more than $142 million in grants to help transform communities and build a strong and vibrant region. We apply our knowledge, relationships, and resources to our work every day therein combining passion and discipline to pursue a vision of Worcester’s success that works for everyone. For more information, please visit