GREENFIELD — A teacher for a life skills class for special needs students at New Palestine High School was paying out of her own pocket for supplies, but now she doesn’t have to.

An after-school program for fifth-grade students at Greenfield Intermediate School has operated for years with no funding, but now it has $1,000 to put toward its wish list of educational games.

These are just two examples of educators and youth benefiting from a new grant-making initiative of the Hancock County Community Foundation called Y-GIVE (Youth – Granting, Investing, Volunteering and Engaging).

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This week, the community foundation’s youth board — comprised of four students from each of the county’s four high schools — announced the inaugural grant recipients. The announcement came after a semester-long effort to recruit program proposals and vet grant applications for hands-on projects to be completed by May.

Each school corporation can receive up to $1,000 for the grant projects. The foundation’s youth board is responsible for volunteering alongside the grant recipients from their school districts and following up on the completion of the project.

Y-GIVE is the newest facet of the community foundation’s youth philanthropy initiative, which has been ongoing for six years, said foundation president Mary Gibble. The initiative has included providing teaching curricula to school districts, hosting festivals and lunch assemblies at schools to celebrate the county’s birthday and generally introducing the idea of philanthropy to young people.

“The whole idea is to encourage kindergarten through 12th-grade students that they live in a quality place called Hancock County,” Gibble explained. “We want to encourage them to invest in the future of the county with their time, talent, and someday, possibly their treasure as well.”

The program is set up to teach high school students not only what it means to be a grant maker, but also the value of volunteering, said Kara Harrison, the foundation’s community investment and grants officer.

While some of the students have yet to get started on their projects, the four-member boardteam from Eastern Hancock is raring to go.

They chose to put their $1,000 grant toward “Buddy Benches,” which will be installed on the elementary playground.

Two benches arrived last week and have been assembled, said Eastern Hancock counselor Nathan Haffner, and they will be installed soon.

The benches are intended to help young students feel less left out, Haffner said. If a student doesn’t have anyone to play with, they sit on the bench, a signal to other students they need a friend.

“It’s a way to blend and encourage more inclusion,” he said. “We want to encourage our students to embrace change and think about their community.”

Greenfield-Central High School’s youth board students will use their funding to support HAWK (Helping All Work for Knowledge), an after-school enrichment program at Greenfield Intermediate School.

HAWK is a weekly program for fifth-graders that stresses reading and math comprehension, as well as encourages team building. It is hosted by youth leaders in the community, like youth pastors, who serve as mentors to the students while leading activities, said Kimberly Hunt, school counselor.

HAWK has an online wish list of academic games and puzzles it has been accumulating, Hunt said; the leaders of the group are excited to be able to hit the “add to cart” button.

“We are excited about what the community has done to meet our call for help,” Hunt said.

Y-GIVE’s launch has been endorsed as an Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project, which means it is a project highlighting the best of Indiana, according to the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration website.

At a glance

Here’s a look at the projects that will benefit from the Hancock County Community Foundation’s inaugural Y-GIVE grant program:

Eastern Hancock:

Eastern Hancock High School students Abby Brown, Chadsey Matlock, Karter Petry and senior Bailey Puterbaugh chose to install “Buddy Benches” on each Eastern Hancock Elementary School playground to encourage socialization and friendship. 

Greenfield-Central:

Chandler Bean, Parker Niemeier, Madison Wise and Alexis Zell approved a grant for the Helping All Work for Knowledge (HAWK) after-school program for fifth-graders at Greenfield Intermediate School. 

Mt. Vernon:

The Mt. Vernon High School youth board members — Meridan Eads, Michael Ertel, Julia Wayer and Miles Wayer — chose to benefit all three elementary schools in their district. The funds will go toward a special needs playground swing at McCordsville Elementary School and painted playground games at Fortville and Mt. Comfort elementary schools. 

Southern Hancock:

Carly Hackler, Austin Keele, Nick Rusche and Malia Williams, who represent New Palestine High School on the youth board, chose to support the life skills class for special needs students by buying supplies for one skill cart. 

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.