High School Students Fund Improving Access to Care

By July 26, 2019 No Comments

Project Access NOW has received a $5,000 CommuniCare grant from the students at the Tualatin High School.

“We are honored to be selected,” Linda Nilsen, our executive director said. “It was an inspiring experience to see the youth be so engaged and thoughtful throughout the grantmaking process. Our future as a community and as a nation is bright.”

Group shot from CommuniCare grant award ceremony

Tualatin HS CommuniCare team with Linda Nilsen, Project Access NOW’s executive director. Photo by Deann Orr courtesy of CARE Foundation.

In the CommuniCare program, groups of students act as foundations, providing grants to nonprofits in the community. The students decide on a focus area and evaluate grant proposals from nonprofits to decide which to fund.

Asia, a junior at Tualatin High, said her group selected health care as their mission, which reads, in part, “we want to support organizations that are working to eliminate obstacles to affordable and reliable preventative care, as well as insurance coverage” and “that are working to help low-income minority families overcome barriers related to language, transportation, discrimination or affordability within access to medical care.”

“We all agreed that health care should be a right not a privilege,” Asia added. “It should be something everyone should have available.”

The students raised $9,000 as part of the program, mostly from homecoming tickets proceeds, according to Asia. The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, which runs the program, matched and increased the funds to $19,000.

The collaborative aspect of the grant was evident throughout the decision-making process, Asia said. “As a class we were really able to work well with each other as collaborators. It allowed us to take leadership and roles we’ve never really done before.”

Since 1997, students participating in the CommuniCare program have raised over $1,250,000 for 296 nonprofits and school programs. Project Access NOW received a CommuniCare grant in 2018 as well.

Throughout the process the class also “learned a lot about dedication of people working in organizations in the community,” Asia said. The students evaluated grant applications for the match with their group’s mission statement, number of people served, efficacy of the program, need for the requested amount, and other factors.

Students awarded the grants to 86 selected nonprofits at an award ceremony at the Oregon Historical Society on May 10, 2019. “The CommuniCare program is really useful and generous,” Asia said. “It should be known and recognized by more people and recognized because of how dedicated the people working in the community are.”

Asia highlighted the experience with the grantmaking class as “unique and useful. It also taught me and my classmates to talk to adults, which we don’t normally do.”

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