DENVILLE, NJ – Morris County School of Technology (MCST), in partnership with Main Street Philanthropy, a 501(c)(3) organization, announced the implementation of the “Main Street Philanthropy Academy.” The 10-week program, which is nearing completion, brought together small groups of students, their classroom teacher, a Main Street Philanthropy ambassador, donors and front-line charities to create a dynamic, real-world experience in charitable giving and fundraising.
“I’m so excited about our program that launched at Morris County School of Technology,” said Yale Levey, a Certified Financial Planner™ and Main Street Philanthropy co-creator and ambassador. “The purpose of Main Street Philanthropy is to transform students from the inside out and society from the bottom up by helping youth and adults experience the joy of purposeful giving. We help address much of what is broken in the world today by providing an antidote for selfish me-first thinking. Main Street Philanthropy addresses so many of the concerns that parents like me worry about these days, such as how to instill critical life skills and values that will help my children find happiness and success for the rest of their lives.”
Using donated funds and money they raised themselves, students identified local charities whose missions aligned with the students’ charitable passions. Working in small groups, students examined these organizations’ tax returns and evaluated their effectiveness in accomplishing their charitable purposes. They interviewed officers and board members and then decided which organizations were having the greatest impact. Eventually, they will deliver checks to those charities they deemed to be doing the best job in the community.
“Main Street Philanthropy gives our students an authentic learning opportunity to practice and hone 21st century skills--communication, collaboration, and critical thinking--while exploring real-world situations,” said Christine Hietanen, an MCST English teacher who helped to launch the Main Street Philanthropy program.
"When the students began working on the Main Street Philanthropy project, they came to life, realizing that with the tools and training in this program, they could bring their collective desires to make a difference in their communities a reality. This program is the springboard students need as they discover and explore their own sense of agency," said Kerrie Bellisario, an MCST Academy for Design teacher who also spearheaded the program.
Program participants have noted its impact in their lives. One stated, “In order to address any issue, having multiple perspectives encourages new and innovative solutions.”
“I always thought that being a philanthropist meant you were rich and donated some money to help people in need. Now I know that anyone can be a philanthropist,” said another student.
Students enrolled in the program learned valuable life skills in financial literacy, written and oral communication, community awareness, group collaboration, leadership and gratitude. Additionally, the surrounding communities and donors also benefit with increased community awareness and a new generation of potential philanthropists.