JMG Specialist Jeff Kozaka’s Project Reach classes at Mahoney Middle School
approached grantmaking with a clean slate this year. They wanted to learn about – and donate to – a nonprofit that had not received their funding in the past. In fact, according to Jeff, “the hardest part of the work this year was identifying new nonprofits that fit the mission-focus on youth and family.” Reach students brainstormed and researched area nonprofits that they had not contacted in the past with a plan to invite the most popular three to present in class. Early on, one new organization, the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, took itself out of consideration – much to the dismay of the students. “It was a hard but useful lesson in reality,” said Jeff, “the hospital has a huge budget and simply doesn’t make presentations for $1000 grants.” The Center for Grieving Children presented to the Mahoney classes in March. Outreach Director, Patricia Ellen, led students through a series of active ice-breaker exercises that they might find at the Center including tossing stuffed animals around a circle and expressing emotion nonverbally.
Mark Primeau, Development Associate with Habitat for Humanity, also presented in
March. He showed a video to the class about the mission and international history of Habitat and shared building plans for current Greater Portland projects. While some students were disappointed to learn that they were too young to volunteer on a construction site, they did find they could support the mission by donating used appliances to Habitat’s Re Store for discounted purchase by new homeowners. Presentations help nonprofits make a direct connection to the students, personally engaging them in mission work, clearing up confusion, and broadening understanding through the school community.