Janice Murasko, from Animal Rescue Friends of Idyllwild, makes a presentation to Idyllwild School Youth Grantmakers. Photo by Marshall Smith

Idyllwild School sixth- and seventh-graders, part of the new Youth Grantmakers program that teaches students how to meet community challenges through philanthropy, met after school on Thursday, April 25.

Similar to the function of the Idyllwild Community Fund that makes annual grants to local nonprofits, the youth program makes grants to local organizations that address issues facing young people: alcohol or drug use, teen pregnancy, youth recreation, homelessness and hunger among other issues.

Students heard a presentation from Janice Murasko of Animal Rescue Friends of Idyllwild. She discussed the work of her organization and stressed that ARF is a small nonprofit, run mostly by volunteers and that most of its funds are used to care for, medically treat, and ultimately adopt out abandoned or lost dogs and cats.

A call for grant applications went out to local nonprofits from the Youth Grantmakers. The deadline for submission is April 30. Awardees will be notified May 17. Students hear presentations, review the grant applications, and make award decisions based on clearly defined criteria.
Karen Lampert, of the Community Foundation in Riverside that runs the program, is acting as the students’ instructor, teaching them about grant criteria, and review and awards processes. At the training session on Thursday, Lampert cautioned students to make certain when a nonprofit submits an application, their stated purpose for the grant must be part of their overall mission statement not a tangential program that may have been added just for the purpose of the grant application.
“Funding should be congruent within their daily work, not just a program created to get the money,” said Lampert. She also advised the students to review the applicant’s operating budget to see what portion of their budget provides services versus what goes to pay salaries. “The ratio of staff pay to services and programs provided tells us if they’re a healthy organization,” Lampert said, noting if a majority of the budget goes to programs and services, it is an organization that would be a better grant recipient.
The 13 students in the program will award grants from $500 to $1,000 and have $4,000 available to grant. The Idyllwild Community Fund committee and the Community Foundation review student choices prior to awards being made final.