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NCLC Receives Two CommuniCare Grants from Local Students

This May, North Coast Land Conservancy was awarded two grants, totaling $15,000, from student grantmakers at Astoria Middle School (AMS) and Seaside High School (SHS) taking part in CommuniCare, a program of the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation.

The CommuniCare students of AMS awarded $5,000 and the CommuniCare students of SHS awarded $10,000 to support operations at NCLC. The grants were presented during a ceremony at Astoria Golf and Country Club on May 13.

CommuniCare students from Astoria Middle School with their leadership teacher, Mrs. West, and NCLC Development Director Kassia Nye.

Engaging in Community Service

According to the CommuniCare website, the program “provides an environment where young adults will learn about the needs of their community and develop leadership skills through grantmaking. By challenging students to engage in community service that is both rewarding and educational, we hope to encourage them to become active leaders in the future.”

The CommuniCare process takes place over the course of the school year. Participating students raise a portion of the grant awards, and the foundation contributes additional funds as a match.

During the grant cycle, CommuniCare students develop a mission statement to guide their decision-making process; receive applications from local organizations; narrow down the pool of recipients; meet with top candidates; and decide how to distribute the awards in accordance with their desired objectives.

Along with NCLC, the AMS students granted awards to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast, Clatsop Animal Assistance, and school programs.

A Desire to ‘Help the Ones Around Us’

At SHS, the CommuniCare program is now housed under the school’s Key Club. Juniors Kysa Gilbert and Jlyn Casco, members of Key Club, took the lead on the CommuniCare process for their Pacifica Project (Pacifica Projects are a community service-centered requirement for graduation at SHS).

Their mission statement this year was:

“The students of SHS Key Club will be granting money to local organizations that provide services to the environment and medical- and mental-healthcare access within Clatsop County. We believe there needs to be more support for keeping our local environment clean and the ability for our community to access medical and mental care, specifically youth. We will be focusing on organizations that give back to our community in the efforts to keep it clean and provide the easy opportunity for people to access affordable healthcare, including organizations look to help those facing challenges with their mental health.”

From their grants, they wanted to see “our beaches and other public areas clean in the hope of making an improvement in the climate” and “people of low income, specifically youth, having better resources to get the help they need.”

SHS Key Club members Kysa Gilbert (left) and Jlyn Casco (right) present a check to NCLC Development Director Kassia Nye.

According to Jyln, the Key Club took a vote on these priorities, to make sure they were capturing “what most of the students cared about.”

“We just wanted to help the ones around us,” Kysa added.

Key Club fundraises throughout the year in a variety of ways. A majority takes place within the school community, such as this year’s Hot Lunch Challenge, wherein students contributed money toward making the teacher of their choice eat hot sauce in front of the student body. The higher the amount raised in the name of a teacher, the hotter the sauce that teacher had to consume during the challenge.

However, Key Club also does fundraising and community service externally. For example, to raise money, members help with the Pacific Basketball League (PBL) tournaments that take place in Seaside annually.

Both Kysa and Jlyn participated in CommuniCare for the first time this school year, although they’ve been members of Key Club since they were freshmen. One of the skills they sharpened throughout the process was learning how to interview people.

Along with NCLC, they selected LiFEBoat Services, based in Astoria, as a recipient.

“We picked what we believed would be most compatible with our mission statement,” Kysa said, adding they connected with NCLC’s mission to care for the environment through preservation and restoration. “It fit our mission statement pretty well.”

Jlyn added, “We really liked your guys’ nonprofit, so it was great to be able to give money back to you guys.”


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