Holy Trinity philanthropy students accepting grant applications


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Students in Holy Trinity’s Philanthropy class will decide which local business or businesses will get a $1,500 grant. The money will support a project, or projects, to help children in need or the environment. Photo courtesy of Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

You’ve probably heard about schools applying for project grants all the time.

But for the second year in a row, a group of Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy students will be the ones deciding who will receive a $1,500 grant to support a project that will help children in need, or the environment.

It’s all part of the philanthropy class taught by the Rev. Joy Willard-Williford, chaplain of Holy Trinity’s Upper School.

“The class teaches them about the wider world, the needs of the world and our responsibility as good citizens to help do what we can to meet those needs,” Willard-Williford said.

Last year’s inaugural class received $1,500 from the Community Foundation for Brevard and another $1,000 was donated by an alumni parent.

A $1,500 grant went to the Brevard Rescue Mission, while $500 each went to Fostering Connections and the Children’s Hunger Project.

HTEA is providing the $1,500 this year, though it would, of course, welcome further donations for the grant project. All applications are due Dec. 9 and the decision will be made Dec. 15.

The benefits of the project are two-fold.

Students get the real-world experience of going through a grant project — from needs assessment to prioritizing those needs, soliciting applications and then reviewing them and ultimately choosing who receives the grant.

Then there is the human element, because they will get to see how their grant actually helped those it was intended for.

“We have the window for the money being spent to be rather short,” Willard-Williford said. “So basically, by April 30, the money needs to be spent. Then we get the grant reports back and we get to evaluate whether the money really went for the purposes of which it was promised. That’s a unique opportunity for them to see that process at work.”

John Wills, a junior, said he was inspired to join the class after his mother started working at a nonprofit, Aging Matters in Brevard.

He is excited about the project, in which, as their semester final, students will comb through the applications individually, then meet in groups where they will assign a rank to each organization. Each group will then provide its findings to the entire 15-student class and they will keep discussing their selections until a final decision is made.

“I’m going to be looking at references, what other people think of them and what their plans are for the future,” Wills said. “If they don’t see themselves going very far in five years, it’s going to be inhibiting. I want to see them have really big goals and a really bright future.”

The decision over which needs will be addressed by this grant — children in need and the environment — also came following student discussions.

Wills said he advocated for children in need after hearing about the number of homeless children in Brevard County, and how many had their last meal of the week at school on Friday.

“It stood (out) in my head that there were so many children that went home hungry for the weekend,” he said. “Their next meal wouldn’t be until Monday at the school. We really want to help those kids.”

Of course, that does not mean the group could not choose a project that helps the environment, too. It will all be open for discussion.

In the meantime, the course has proven to have had quite an impact on Wills.

“It’s really an eye opener,” he said. “I’m more aware about the community I’m in and trying to help out any way that I can.”

The grant application can be found online at htacademy.org and may be mailed or hand-delivered to The Rev. Joy Willard-Williford, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, 5625 Holy Trinity Drive, Melbourne, FL 32940. Deadline for submittal is Wednesday, Dec. 9. The award will be announced on Friday, Dec. 18. For more information, email joy.williford@htes.org or call 321-723-8323, ext. 351.