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Youth Generate: Building, Connecting, and Inspiring Youth-Driven Service Projects

Springfield, MA - United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has partnered with the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to operate Youth Generate, a program which engages youth in volunteer service projects throughout Hampden County.

“It’s inspiring to see so many young people step forward to make a difference in their communities,” explains UWPV President and CEO Jim Ayres.  “And to see them doing so through their own ideas and initiative makes it all the more exciting.”

Youth Generate allows groups of students to build community service projects based on their interests and passions. Students meet and work one-on-one with UWPV’s Volunteer Coordinator to brainstorm, strategize, and plan their project. UWPV also connects students to local agencies who support specific causes that students are passionate about, and provides mini-grants to cover the costs associated with the projects.  Students have created fundraisers, donations drives, and beautification projects.

Recently, students from The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield created 260 handmade thank-you cards and canvas paintings that were presented to residents of The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.

“We are trying to make over 200 thank you cards for the soldiers to bring happiness to their life,” says 8th grader Lisette Ramon.

“Volunteering means something I wouldn’t normally do and I’m doing a bit more for the people who have less,” says Jacob, a 12 year old member of the Boys and Girls Club. “It makes me feel better knowing people have what I have.”

Youth Generate began five years ago, as a week-long celebration of youth volunteerism during National Volunteer Week in April. Last year, with increased support from the MSA and CNCS, UWPV has expanded Youth Generate to a ten month, program with the opportunity to engage up to twenty student groups in community service.

Youth Generate is one of several initiatives through which United Way of Pioneer Valley promotes volunteerism and positive youth leadership in our community.

For more information and to sign up, visit: uwpv.org/youthgenerate