Umatilla High School CommuniCare Awards $15,000 in Grants

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The Umatilla High School CommuniCare Committee has awarded $15,000 to local organizations to provide opportunities for youth in the Umatilla community.

The committee awarded $2,500 to Umatilla Little League, $5,000 to Made to Thrive and $7,500 to Thriving Elements, according to a press release Friday, June 2, from the Umatilla School District.

Umatilla Little League organizes baseball and softball to leagues for youth in Umatilla. Made to Thrive seeks to empower children by supporting them in sports, music, arts and more. It helps with funding covering equipment costs and providing transportation to and from activities. Made to Thrive’s mission is “to stop the cycle of child abuse, neglect, and poverty by bringing the physical and emotional benefits of sports, adventure activities, music and art to vulnerable youth.”

Thriving Elements’ goal is to “develop and empower women leaders in STEM to make a sustainable impact in their communities and inspire the next generation of young women.” It connects youth with volunteer mentors who have experience in the student’s desired career area, supporting them from the start of high school to college graduation to employment.

The Umatilla High School CommuniCare Committee recentlly awarded $15,000 to local nonprofits: $2,500 to Umatilla Little League, $5,000 to Made to Thrive and $7,500 to Thriving Elements. (Photo courtesy of Umatilla School District)

The 18 students in the new UHS CommuniCare group decided to focus on opportunities for youth, especially young people who may not be able to afford activities in their school or community. According to Kaidan Blair, chair of CommuniCare and a UHS senior, the committee agreed all three organizations fulfill the group’s mission this year. He said Umatilla Little League is providing youth with a program that is getting reignited after the coronavirus pandemic, Made to Thrive helps youth participate in established programs by removing barriers such as finances or transportation and Thriving Element provides robust mentoring including class recommendations, guidance on scholarships, internships and even jobs in career fields.

Blair said at first it was a bit overwhelming to be involved in UHS CommuniCare because writing a potential $15,000 grant was daunting. All of the members are students who already are a part of other student clubs such as Leadership, National Honor Society and Key Club. The group raised money this school year with a Hat Day, a Halloween Haunted house and a Penny War.

The CommuniCare process eventually involved the entire school community in fundraising, according to the press release. Then the interview and application process put the students in a position of being the ones interviewing, selecting and eventually awarding grants to organizations.

“It was an amazing and unique experience being a part of the CommuniCare team at UHS,” Blair said. “Moving forward I know those students who have been through the process will take part in the group again next year, and I have no doubt they will be able to only make it better than it already was this year. I hope to see the CommuniCare team flourish into a major, but selective organization within the high school that allows students to write more grants and support our local nonprofits.”

UHS CommuniCare is organized through CommuniCare Oregon (www.communicareor.org), which “believes there should be opportunities for young people to create change. The CommuniCare program provides an environment where young adults will learn about the needs of their community and develop leadership skills through grantmaking.”

The UHS group raised $750, which is matched up to $15,000 by CommuniCare Oregon.