Having a Choice that Makes a Difference

Mountain View Youth Development CenterThe JMG students who are residents at Mountain View Youth Development Center in Charleston become accustomed to having very limited choices – their schedules, meals and educational curriculum are assigned to them. They also have little input on their day to day activities. “So, imagine what it is like to suddenly have control over grant money,” shares JMG Program Manager Pat Gillis. “Most of the young men had the sense that this experience in philanthropy was ‘bigger than me’ and every one of them chose to step up and take it seriously.”

Ben, who led the Mountain View student JOY Advisory Committee, said that just doing the research on nonprofit organizations was eye-opening. “Starting out, I didn’t know much about any of them, but all of us felt it was important to really understand the role of each one. We wanted to know exactly how the money would be used and how many people would benefit – children in particular.”

Using a detailed matrix that they developed, the Advisory Committee members ranked each proposal for, among other factors, overall mission, impact of grant and quality of application – typos and missing information were noted. The Mountain View students eventually awarded their funds to the Coping and Support Training (CAST) program at the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers in Waterville to address pregnant and parenting teens about suicide and its prevention.