Thursday, June 24, 2021

Wyoming County Receives $65,534:
Four area non-profits awarded
more than $210,000 in teen funding

Four non-profits in Wyoming, Genesee, and Orleans counties have received more than $210,000 in grants for afterschool programs aimed at serving teens. The money was awarded by Generator Z, a platform established in 2020 for teens to re-imagine the future of afterschool activities. The organization announced 93 grants on Tuesday for non-profit afterschool providers serving teens in Western New York and Southeast Michigan.

Generator Z is driven by teens and powered by Lakeshore Connections with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. Grants ranging between $10,000 and $100,000 were awarded to providers with the strongest teen-centered after-school ideas.

“Often teens are told that they can’t really have a voice, but Generator Z did the opposite,” said Zoey L., a 14-year-old ‘Generator’ from Western New York, in a news release. “It got me out of my comfort zone which is good because I usually like to stay in my own bubble. I shared my own story and then saw after school providers do an amazing job responding to Generator insights.

“They developed and pitched programs that sounded fun and could help motivate more teens to join after school programs,” she continued. “I like the way that providers took specific examples from a teen’s story and then showed how it impacted or inspired their program.”

More than 1,000 teen “Generators” were invited last year to share their vision for the future of afterschool on Their stories were published this past January, providing young people ages 13 to 18 with a podium during a time when their everyday lives were disrupted by a global pandemic, racial injustice, and political tension.

Non-profit after school providers were then invited to apply for grants that responded to the Generators’ stories. A committee of teens, adult allies and near-peers served as judges to recommend and prioritize grant support. Local recipients included: 

 ■ In Wyoming County, the GLOW YMCA Inc. in Warsaw received $65,534 to design develop and implement a community-wide, teen-focused center at the Wyoming County YMCA.

“Currently Wyoming County does not have a community center type location and the current YMCA facility does not have a place for area teens to go to for programs and services that fit their needs,” the GLOW YMCA wrote in its pitch on the Generator Z website. 

“The Liberty Center idea could serve the teens in this geographic area and be a hub for programs and services. Programs and services that can not only be run by the YMCA but also could be a location for partnering organizations and business to play a role.”

■ In Genesee County, GO! Art received $35,000 for it’s EXPLORE ART! concept.

The idea is to develop a “community center for teens” that is directed by a team of teens who share a passion for arts and culture, along with a vision for a place to make their vision happen, and to share it. GO! Art pitched the idea teens can use their podcast studio for teens to put out as often as they wish to try a new art.

“We want the opportunity for teens to try a new art — something they might not even know about, but when they hear other kids talk about the process or the outcome, or the way they felt participating, they want to try too,” GO! Art wrote in its pitch on Generator Z website. “We also want the opportunity to spend time with the art form that is well loved – well known — and to share it. Maybe it’s a first ever makeup design, or a chance to share cultural symbols in jewelry or food. Maybe it’s an amazing performance — music, dance, spoken word! Maybe it’s animation — a cartoon series or animated shorts that share experiences, feelings, dreams, and hopes.”

■ Funding worth $95,000 was awarded to the Orleans County YMCA in Medina to convert 4,500 square feet into a Teen Center, where youth will have a safe space of belonging with old and new friends.

Greg Reed, executive director for the Orleans County YMCA, said the Orleans County YMCA was part of the initial process before the grant even became a grant. The teens opinion count survey which happened over two years ago drove the grant, and helped get local teens’ opinions from local school districts. Reed said the first steps for the Orleans County YMCA is a lot of planning and getting further opinions from teens.

“The goal for us to do with this money, like I said, is renovating essentially 4,500 square feet of our building to just have an opportunity for teens to come and go,” Reed said. There will be programming, and they hope to have a coffee and smoothie bar.

■ A total of $14,362 was awarded to the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension for Orleans youth to produce food and donate it to local food pantries.

Robert Batt, executive director for the Orleans County CCE, said it was exciting when they received the money — extra so because the 4-H Teen Council helped on the application. “We received funding for the same idea through a different grant, and the 4-H kids wanted to add some scholarships and leadership components to it,” he said. “So they took it and enhanced it with that leadership piece they’re going to do.” Batt said youth can apply and then donate food they grow to pantries. The CCE will refund them farmer’s market value for the food.

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