Students offer $2,500 to Big Sky community
By Gus Hammond EBS CONTRIBUTOR
BIG SKY – In a community where nonprofits are paramount, local students are joining the effort to fund needs throughout Big Sky. Soccer player, basketball player, golfer, and now club founder junior Josie Wilcynski recently started a new philanthropy program at Lone Peak High School.
The Lone Peak Youth Philanthropy Club will teach students at LPHS about finance, grants, and the web of nonprofit organizations in Big Sky. Wilcynski came up with this idea as part of her CAS project required by the IB curriculum. Every LPHS junior is encouraged to create a project that incorporates creativity, activity, or service.
“I love to help people and I’m interested in finance so I figured it would be a good way to combine my interests,” Wilcynski said.
The main goal of the philanthropy club is to educate the community as well as the students in the club on how to apply for grants in the hope that the people of Big Sky use the money for a good cause. The club will work toward this goal by offering a grant, processing applications and awarding community dollars.
Wilcynski applied for a grant in January and received $2,500 in April from the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation and Big Opportunities. She and the rest of her fellow club members will now decide where this money goes.
Right now, the club’s first steps are to advertise and communicate with the public on how to apply for the club’s grant. The application is open to any organization in Big Sky with the goal of giving back to the community. All applications are due on May 27 and the club will notify recipients on June 10.
“We meet on Fridays, or as many Fridays as possible to kind of discuss what philanthropy is and why it is so important in our community,” Wilcynski told EBS on April 22. “And then we made a grant application for other nonprofits to fill out so we can give the money we have to them.”
The club has already impacted the school community of LPHS. Wilcynski has many students who have shown an interest in being a part of the club. As of right now, there are eight club members, but it’s expanding quickly. One of the first students to join was junior Ella Henslee.
“I joined the Lone Peak Youth Philanthropy Club because I was looking for a way to give back to the community and benefit the organizations in the community that I care about,” Henslee said.
Students like Henslee now have a new avenue to show their appreciation to the Big Sky community.
“We have values,” Wilcynski said, “education, environment and empowerment and those are the groups of people that we want to get the money because we think that is what’s important for the community.”
The students at LPHS are creating something special within the Big Sky community. Wilcynski says she is confident that the club will continue to grow long after she leaves LPHS.