Penns Valley Youth Center’s STEM Activities.  

Schlow Library’s Art Exhibition Space for Teens.

Both of these programs were supported by grants from various Centre PACT classes, who have raised and granted over $45,000 to 24 local nonprofits since 2016.

Centre Foundation is home to Centre PACT, a hands-on philanthropy program for high school students. In this program, students from across the county come together to discuss issues facing their peers, learn about the potential solutions that nonprofits offer, and fund the projects they think will be the most effective.

Students are involved in the entire granting process and get to learn about the nonprofit sector along the way. They make a direct impact on the community by working together to identify the issues they care about, review grant proposals, fundraise, and ultimately award grants to local nonprofits.

Over the years, Centre PACT classes have funded community projects that address a wide range of issues including education, mental health, diversity, equity and inclusion, and social justice.

Penns Valley Youth Center’s STEM Activities

The Centre PACT Class of 2021 showcased their dedication for education by granting $2,500 to the Penns Valley Youth Center to provide STEM activities for its K-5 After School Program. This grant funded a variety of STEM-related projects and learning opportunities that exposed students to new ways of problem-solving.

Darren Narber, Executive Director at Penns Valley Youth Center, shared that the lack of support that many of their students experience outside of the classroom served as the motivation behind adding STEM activities to its K-5 After School Program.

“By providing a place that encourages health habits and promotes wise choices out of those two venues, we are helping young people grow into contributing members of our community,” he said. “This comes in many form factors, but for a student who has never thought about their future or the opportunities that could be available to them, these STEM activities have opened their eyes to a larger world that exists beyond our small valley.”

During the grant period, approximately 90 students participated in Penns Valley Youth Center’s K-5 After School Program. The addition of fun and interesting STEM activities provided an opportunity to connect with these students and show them different ways to think about the world while building an appreciation for it.

Since the launch of these new activities, the Penns Valley Youth Center has seen what their students are capable of when given the resources and opportunities. This organization has seen a growing interest and participation in Technology Student Association, Robotics Club, Food Science, and in the sciences or mathematics.

“We have seen students move beyond a simple After School Program and engage in other activities and opportunities that feed their excitement and desire to learn,” added Darren. “This program has helped to supplement the work of our local school district while providing students and families additional opportunities to think beyond their present circumstances and engage their futures today.”

Schlow Centre Region Library’s Art Exhibition Space for Teens

The Centre PACT Class of 2022 shared their appreciation for the arts by granting $255 to Schlow Library for Turn Feelings into Creativity: An Art Exhibition Space for Teens. This space serves as an outlet for teens to display their creative works inspired and created through personal initiative, school, and/or community wellness programs.

Maria Burchill, Head of Adult and Teen Services at Schlow shared that the community responded positively to the addition of this art exhibition space.

“The students who have displayed their work are excited to have an opportunity to share their creativity and passion,” she said. “The Centre PACT grant allowed us to resuscitate teen-centered programming at Schlow. Beyond an increase in teen participation in the gallery space, we have also noticed an increase in teen visits to their dedicated space, as well as a rise in partnership opportunities with the school district.”

The teen gallery exhibitions are ongoing and are held monthly at Schlow. So far this year, they’ve hosted four shows by local teens, which included charcoal sketches, photography, a paper quilt collage, and a poster installation on wild turkeys. Additionally, they are working to expand to more spaces for teens who have interests beyond art.

Maria expressed her enjoyment in working with the Centre PACT students from the point of presenting their proposal to being awarded the grant.

“We enjoyed being able to interact with the leadership and hear their thoughts on the program proposal. We appreciated the acknowledgment that we were on the right track with our mission to serve more young adults in the area.”

Additional programs that Centre PACT funded include:

  • Center for Alternatives in Community Justice’s Youth Aid Panel
  • Park Forest Preschool’s Social Justice, Equity, and Diversity Services
  • The Pennsylvania Mental Health Institute’s Central Pennsylvania School Districts Pilot Program

Applications are open now until Wednesday, October 4 to join the Centre PACT Class of 2024 and make an impact on the community through projects like these. Learn more about Centre PACT and apply here.

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