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Friends Announces 2024 Youth Philanthropy Initiative Grant Recipients

On June 3, 2024 during the Day of Service, Friends hosted its annual Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) presentation. Friends Seminary’s Center for Peace, Equity and Justice in collaboration with the History Department, has been provided this opportunity to engage our students in the philanthropic sector through a program created by the Toskan Casale Foundation. YPI is an international multi-award-winning youth service program that has directed over $20 million in grants to nonprofits across the United States, Canada, England, and Scotland. Throughout Friends Seminary’s partnership with YPI, students have connected to dozens of NYC nonprofits and have been able to award over $75K in grants to winning organizations. This service-learning initiative is part of the Friends Seminary Grade 9 history curriculum and serves as a capstone experience for our ninth grade students. 

For this important project, students were divided into teams and charged with selecting and researching a nonprofit organization that is addressing a social issue in New York City that is of concern to the students. Each team researched their nonprofit’s mission, history, programs, and impact. They have learned how to use the organization’s 990s and annual reports for key information. They conducted in-person and virtual site visits and interviewed staff and clients of the nonprofits. In presentations to their peers, each team shared what they have learned about the role the philanthropic sector plays in addressing social needs. Students and teachers collectively determined which of the teams should move forward to the final round.

In the last phase of this multi-step service-learning project, seven finalist teams advocated for their nonprofits to their classmates and other members of the community. At stake was a $5,000 grant awarded to the winning team’s nonprofit from the Toskan Casale Foundation. Two runner up teams were awarded grants of $1,000 each for their nonprofits. These two grants are generously supported by the Friends Administration and Parents Association. A panel of judges, which included, student, and Friends community members that have experience in philanthropic organizations helped determine the final round’s grant winner. The audience helped determine two secondary grant recipients.

Teachers Stephon Richardson and Neil Desa did an incredible job of leading this important annual initiative, teaching ninth grade students about the nonprofit sector, the crucial work these groups are doing in our communities, and supporting their students in their research and presentations. 

Friends Seminary is pleased to announce our 2024 grant recipients:

A $5,000 grant was awarded to Families for Freedom represented by Lottie, Crismary, Delilah, Jacob.

Twenty years ago, the Shahani family, Subash Kateel, and Maria Muentes came together and founded Families for Freedom. Their goal was to fight against the deportations ravaging our communities and separating our families. The organization aims to support migrants by providing accompaniment to ICE check-ins, detention center hotlines (to assist detainees in making calls to their family, attorneys  and courts so that they don’t feel alone), and providing direct resources for migrants in the city.

A $1,000 grant from the Friends Administration was awarded to Grassroots Grocery represented by Wilhelmina, Finn, Jaeden, Liam

Only one in four New Yorkers who experience a food emergency access a food pantry, citing both physical barriers – such as transportation and inconvenience – and emotional ones, including stigma, discrimination, or even just dignity. 
Grassroots Grocery removes those barriers by bringing the pantry to the people. As a bottom-up movement, we partner with trusted community leaders who distribute food to their neighbors. Whether it’s a Saturday spent delivering produce or bringing your favorite chili to a community fridge, every action helps feed people in need – without sacrificing their pride. 
People exist to help one another.  When you’re short a cup of sugar, you call a neighbor. And when you can, you return the favor. That give-and-take relationship is the thread that binds our neighbors together, creating a community committed to feeding each other. 

A $1,000 grant from the Parents Association was awarded to Girls Education and Mentoring Services represented by Mia, Sabrina, Madison, Henry

For the past 24 years, Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) has served as the nation’s leading organization for empowering commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women. Through cultural change, advocacy, training, and survivor leadership, GEMS is committed to shifting public perception and policy.  
As New York State’s first, and only, organization designed to provide trauma-informed, strengths-based services, GEMS has served thousands of young women and girls, ages 12–29. Founded in 1998, GEMS’ ground-breaking, award-winning work supports survivors in: gaining independence, safety, education, employment, and economic sustainability for themselves and their children. GEMS’ unique Victim, Survivor, Leader™ (VSL) program model is the gold standard for organizations serving trafficking victims and survivors across the country. GEMS co-wrote and helped pass the NYS Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act—the first bill in the nation to stop the criminalization of commercially sexually exploited children.

All Organizations Represented by Students:

Association to Benefit Children 
Families for Freedom
Free Arts NYC
Girls Education and Mentoring Services
Grassroots Grocery


Students: Chase ‘27, Alexander ‘27, Eli ‘27, Lucy ‘27, Ines ’27, Anna ’27
Faculty and Staff: Bo Lauder
Guest Judges: Karla Bookman, Ed Oh, Gingi Pica, Miriam Rafiqui, Katharine Zaleski
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.

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Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.