On Thursday, June 25, United Way of Southwest Alabama's Board of Trustees awarded $15,000 to support youth-focused community programs. The funds, made available through the donations of students in Mobile County Public Schools, will be invested in programs that "address key social issues vital to improving outcomes for young people in the areas of health, education and life's basic essentials," according to a recent UWSWA press release.
The agencies scheduled to receive the awards are Bay Area Food Bank's Backpack Program, Mobile Preschool for the Sensory Impaired Preschool Program, Penelope House Family Violence Center's School-based Prevention Education Program and United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile's Preschool Program.
To decide the best way to use the funds, UWSWA worked with trained high school volunteers as part of the agency's Student Philanthropists Actively Reaching the Community (SPARC) program. "SPARC is designed to raise student awareness of community needs of youth, while engaging them in raising and distributing money to address those needs," the press release notes.
After reviewing all of the initial applications and selecting finalists, the students went on site visits to talk to the staff and observe some of the programs before making final recommendations to UWSWA's Board of Trustees.