Tufts Health Plan Foundation Future Philanthropists Award $20K to Four Boston-Based Nonprofits

Local High School Students Select Healthy Aging Programs Designed to Improve the Physical Health and Emotional Wellbeing of Older Adults

WATERTOWN, MA – April 4, 2014 – The Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced today that its 2014 Future Philanthropists have selected four Boston-based nonprofits to receive $20,000 in funding for healthy aging programs. The nonprofits include The LGBT Aging Project, FriendshipWorks, Whittier Street Health Center and Hearth.

Now in its third year, the Tufts Health Plan Foundation Future Philanthropists Initiative is designed to engage and empower youth to work collectively to serve older adults through philanthropy. The program is a collaboration between the Tufts Health Plan Foundation and the Boston-area nonprofit Future Philanthropists.

A ceremony took place April 2 during which the 14 students who participated in the weekly leadership initiative presented checks to the organizations. Students hailed from both public and denominational schools including Cristo Rey Boston High School in Dorchester, Gann Academy in Waltham, Lexington Christian Academy and Watertown High School.

As part of the program, the students learned what nonprofits do and why they exist, including how to conduct research, read a budget and make a presentation. They were then tasked with undertaking a full grant process, including proposal reviews and site visits, and were allotted $20,000 from the foundation to award as grants to organizations focused on improving the lives of older adults. This year, the students selected four Boston-based organizations to receive funding:

The LGBT Aging Project, a program of The Fenway Institute, received $6,500 to fund its LGBT Elders of Color Outreach Initiative. The program seeks to raise awareness about the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders of color, assess the needs of these communities in order to connect them to resources and services offered by elder service providers in their areas, build and/or rebuild a sense of community for LGBT elders of color, and launch a community dining program where those from communities of color can feel free to be themselves in a supportive and respectful atmosphere.

“We are excited about this innovative effort to reach LGBT older adults of color – a minority within a minority who have lived with the experience of being doubly marginalized in both the mainstream and LGBT communities,” said Lisa Krinsky, LICSW, director, The LGBT Aging Project. “This funding will help our terrific outreach team to offer engaging programs and create a thriving sense of community among LGBT older adults of color to ensure that these individuals can age with dignity and respect.”

The students awarded a $6,000 grant to FriendshipWorks for its pet visitation program, PetPals, which recruits and trains volunteer human/pet teams to visit elders living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and individual homes.  

“Pet visitation has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and lift the spirits of isolated elders,” said Ellen Kirchheimer, MSW, director of FriendshipWorks’ PetPals program. “PetPals has a unique healing power. With this grant, we’ll be able to screen more volunteer teams so that we can bring the joy of pets to more people.”

Whittier Street Health Center, which serves the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and surrounding communities, also received $6,000 to fund a Wellness and Fall Prevention Class series, an onsite program to teach seniors about fall prevention.

“Our goal with this funding is to recruit senior participants into our classes to improve their mobility, strength and balance,” explained Frederica Williams, president & CEO of Whittier Street Health Center. “We also want to raise awareness of fall prevention strategies, such as vision screenings and proper footwear, to reduce the incidence and severity of falls and fall-related injuries among older adults in the vulnerable communities we serve.”

Lastly, the students awarded Hearth with a $1,500 grant to purchase and install an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at one of its housing sites. The AED will be placed at Ruggles Assisted Living in Roxbury, which houses 43 formerly homeless elders. A registered nurse who is a certified CPR instructor will train the staff at Ruggles on its use.

“Studies have shown that defibrillation within one minute of collapse results in 90 percent survival,” said Mark Hinderlie, president and CEO of Hearth. “With this grant, our staff will have the equipment and training needed to be more effective in the face of cardiac emergencies.”

About Future Philanthropists
By entrusting youth to give away real money to nonprofit organizations, Future Philanthropists teaches youth about the needs within their own communities, their role as active citizens, and the meaning of “giving back.” Using teamwork, collaboration and leadership skills, students are empowered to help the most deserving charities while simultaneously strengthening their ability to write, review effective budgets, and present to one another.  Since 2009, with the support of several foundations, this program has enabled over 600 youth to donate nearly $400,000 to community-based organizations. Visit www.futurephilanthropists.org.

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