Encouraging philanthropy throughout Otsego County is a major goal for the Community Foundation of Otsego County. What better way to spark that interest than by engaging our youth? Our first-ever Student Voices, Student Choices Awards (SVSC) is a new competition for high school students to sharpen their focus on local needs and issues and encourage them to become leaders in their communities.

Four teams from participating high schools – Cherry Valley-Springfield, Edmeston, Gilbertsville-Mount Upton, and Richfield Springs – will identify the greatest needs in their communities, research organizations that address the needs, then present their causes to a panel of local leaders, educators, and perhaps, a celebrity or two.

It’s an exciting event, and the participating school principals and student advisors are all in and enthusiastic. Tim Lord, co-Executive Director of Dream Yard, a youth arts and social justice education organization in the Bronx, is an active and enthusiastic part of our planning. He says, “At Dream Yard, we have seen first-hand the power of real-world learning experiences for high school students as they develop their collaborative and communication skills while also impacting local communities in important ways.“

But Student Voices, Student Choices is not simply an exercise. The competition will result in very real local impact. Each team will receive a monetary award for the organization they represent: $5,000 to the top presentation team, $3,000 for the runner-up, and $1,000 each to the other entrants. Everyone wins––students, communities, schools, Otsego County.

“SVSC gives students the opportunity to expand on community service that will not only support a local specific nonprofit organization but also assists students in developing a plan from start to finish and having to follow through to reach their goal,” says TheriJo Snyder, Superintendent of Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School.”

“The group members are excited about this project,” says Sierra Stafford, Advisor, Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School District. ”They have stated that it will be nice to finally be able to give back in a big way since COVID restrictions made it difficult to do so the last few years.”

Student teams will make their presentations before a panel of judges and an audience Monday, November 21, 2022. The Community Foundation of Otsego County is thrilled to begin what we envision as an annual event, expanding to all Otsego County High Schools, and creating the philanthropic leaders of our future.

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