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Riverside---The Community Foundation program has area high schoolers fund grants for local nonprofits.

Matthew Allen believes his peers today are more involved in their communities than ever before.

"I am always amazed by the amount of change youth are able to enact in the community." This is evident in The Community Foundation's Youth Grantmakers Committee (YGC), now completing its fourth year.

Matthew will be a senior at North high school in Riverside in the fall. He joined the committee when he was a sophomore and has since gained critical skills.

"Throughout the year I have learned how to be a better listener and communicator during our sessions.  Overall I love YGC and can't wait until next year!" said Allen.

The committee's students mostly live in Riverside but a few are from San Bernardino County.

In a ceremony at City Hall, the committee celebrated with the eleven nonprofits chosen to receive a total of $25,000. The Community Foundation's Board of Directors approved the choices. Since 2009, YGC has awarded $75,000 to nonprofit organizations for youth programs.

The 2012 grant recipients are: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert, Inc., $1,665, Birth Choice of the Desert, $2,420, Calicinto Ranch, Inc. $2,500, Concept 7, Inc., $2,500, Escuela De La Raza, $2,490, Jefferson Transitional Program, $2,125, Moreno Valley Unified School District, $2,300, Oak Grove Center, $2,500, Safe Alternatives for Everyone, $2,500, Smooth Transitions, $2,000, The Freestyle Foundation, $2,000.

Earlier this year, 40 nonprofits submitted grant applications with detailed project proposals. They were reviewed by the youth grantmakers, who wanted to help teens dealing with the most important issues facing young people today.

"The Youth Grantmakers Committee is my opportunity to see the struggles teens in my community face and be able to do something about it," said Diana Alatorre, a senior attending University of California Irvine in the fall. "It gives me the voice and power to make a difference today for tomorrow's generations."
About two-thirds of the committee's students attend Arlington, North, Martin Luther King, Ramona and Norte Vista high schools. Students from La Sierra, Notre Dame, and Aquinas are in the group too.

The Community Foundation was founded in 1941 by a Riverside Businessman. Since then, it has expanded to serve both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties by managing donations, awarding grants and scholarships, being a catalyst to address community issues and strengthening the nonprofit sector. Last year, the foundation awarded over $5.2 million in grants and scholarships, raised over $9 million, and currently has over 300 funds that exceed $61 million in assets.

The Youth Grantmakers Committee formed after a foundation board member, Stan Grube, attended a national conference and saw how teenagers in Michigan were engaging in making decisions about grants that affected youth in their community. In late 2008, the foundation board approved the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, which launched the Youth Grantmakers Committee.

"The goal is to teach young people about the tradition of philanthropy," said Celia Cudiamat, the foundation's Vice President of Grant Programs. "We want to increase their awareness about youth issues within and outside the confines of their own neighborhood, improve their skills in conflict resolution and communications, increase their knowledge about grantmaking, nonprofits and foundations, and teach them leadership and civic skills. We hope the end result is an ethic of service and lifelong involvement in their community."

This year's co-chairs of the Youth Grantmakers Committee, both recent graduates of King high school, are David Cole, attending UCLA in the fall and Neera Shah, attending Cal Tech in the fall. "It has been a humbling experience to work with such dedicated members of the community and witness their compassion," Shah said.

Michael Patini, a senior heading to UC Penn in the fall, believes the committee changed his life. After two years on the committee, he has firsthand experience that this process really works.

"The Youth Grantmakers Committee was a place of growth and challenge for me, a place where my understanding of nonprofit organizations and the importance of charity were made strikingly clear," Patini said. "YGC has greatly affected how I will spend my spare time in my college years and beyond."

Isaac Morales, who served on the committee for two years, summed it up like this. "Youth Grantmakers Committee is an outlet for us to not only have a voice, but to also have a direct impact with the resources provided to us. While serving as youth grantmakers, we become leaders, we become liaisons, we become philanthropists, but most importantly, we take action." Morales will be attending New York University in the fall and is a Gates Millennium Scholar.

Each of the eleven graduating Grantmakers selected a senior charity of choice. In appreciation of their service, The Community Foundation made a donation to each of the ten charities. Amounts varied from $400 to $500, depending on the number of years on the committee, attendance and other factors. Donations were made to: Arlington High School Envirothon Team and Mane Thing Newspaper, Aquinas High School's Cross Country Team, Invisible Children, Inc., King High School's Project Lead the Way and King Courier Newspaper, Norte Vista High School's Cheerleaders and International Baccalaureate Club, Ramona High School's United Student Body and Girls Basketball Team.

About The Community Foundation
The Community Foundation is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation created by and for the residents of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. The Community Foundation connects donors with the causes they care about. Established in 1941, The Community Foundation has $61 million in assets and provides college scholarships and grants to nonprofit organizations across the two-county area. It also serves as a regional convener to address issues regarding their Community Initiatives, which include Arts & Culture, Capacity Building, Environmental, Youth Philanthropy, and Education. To learn more about applying for a grant or making a donation to The Community Foundation, please call 951-241-7777 or visit