Building our youth for the future

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” The Elk County Community Foundation (ECCF) helps drive social impact in Elk County. ECCF believes that our youth are our future, and it’s important for us to invest resources in initiatives and programs that have a positive impact on the youth in our community.

Since 2000, the 176 charitable funds at ECCF have invested millions into programs that impact our youth, helping our area’s thinkers and dreamers create meaningful change through the funds they established. Children’s programs in many different categories have been supported by ECCF grants over the past 20 years. These grants have had a major impact in life in Elk County, providing a generation of our youth with programs that directly affect the physical, social and emotional well-being of our children and their families.

Many community and school libraries have received grants for creation of programs like children’s areas, story hours, book collections, technology equipment, teen reading lounge, and early reader programs. Funding was awarded for a Rosetta Stone software license, books for Dickinson’s Literacy Van, a homework club at the Boys & Girls Club, and SMAHS Certified Nursing Assistant Program.

Our park systems and school playgrounds have grown and thrived with financial assistance for playground equipment for Ridgway YMCA, Johnsonburg Borough, St. Leo School and Johnsonburg and Ridgway school districts, the restoration of Kaulmont Park in St. Marys, Borough of Ridgway skate park, Johnsonburg Knothole playground and park, Memorial Park Playland, maintenance at Angela Huey Park, picnic tables for Highland Township, batting cage at Sandy Park, pavilion construction at Ridgway Community Pool, and a portable ice rink for St. Marys Recreation.

Youth sports received much needed funding at various parks and schools for renovation of backstops, dugouts, fences, gates, restroom construction, court lighting, batting cages, press box for girls’ softball, archery program, and a basketball funnel. Grants were awarded to the St. Marys Sportsmen for their Youth Field Day, to Ridgway schools to refurbish the gym floor, and to St. Marys Little League to send their senior team to districts.

Music and the arts were supported with grants for the Missoula Theater program, a trailer for band equipment, band camp, a fourth grade instrument program, artist in residence, drama club support, funding for live performances, and the establishment of a Creative Corner.

Our students have benefited from technology grants for their schools and clubs for digital streaming, robotics club, I-pad lab, video conferencing equipment, computer carts, wireless connectivity, technology upgrades, interactive whiteboards, STEM lab, elementary school science lab, foreign language computers, LCD projectors, and drafting technology. 

Social issues were addressed with grants for programs by CAPSEA, the Guardian Angel Center, the Christian Food Bank, the United Way’s Success by Six program, Dickinson’s Autism program, American Red Cross First Aid Class, the DARE program, Camp Flutterbye, Special Olympics, a teen obesity feasibility study, after school programs, and other community programs.

Grants have support Rails to Trails in both Ridgway and St. Marys, giving families a beautiful walking and biking area to enjoy. Friends of Twin Lakes are utilizing grant dollars to repair trails and conduct a study to help ensure the future of the park.

The list could go on and on. Our youth, our families, and our communities have benefited from the generosity of the donors who established their own funds, and those who have donated to the general funds of the Elk County Community Foundation. Our future lies in ensuring that our youth have the education and community resources they need to help them develop into caring, responsible adults.

By connecting donors, community leaders, and nonprofits, the goal of the Elk County Community Foundation is to help build a thriving area where possibility and opportunity are available for all. For more information, contact the Foundation at 834-2125 or