Grand Circle Foundation 2010 Associates' Fund Recipients Announced
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Grand Circle Foundation 2010 Associates' Fund Recipients Announced

Empowering associates to give back within the Boston community

Grand Circle Foundation is proud to give back to destinations along the path of Grand Circle Travel and OAT itineraries around the world. And we're also proud to give back close to home. At our Boston headquarters, the spirit of community service thrives, as volunteers give back through food banks, homeless shelters, and charitable events throughout the Boston area.

One way in which associates get involved is through the Associates' Fund, which allows a team of associates to make the determination of how $25,000, provided by Grand Circle Foundation, will be allocated among various local charitable organizations. These organizations must be Boston-based nonprofits with an operating budget of $3 million or less, and grants are awarded for use on a specific project, rather than general administrative or operating costs. For consideration, proposals must focus on one of two areas: youth education and discovery, or elder involvement and education. And the more creative the approach, the better! The grants are one year in duration.

This year, seven associates—a record for the Associates' Fund—spoke on behalf of organizations who had presented proposals. "I think these associates really appreciate working for a company that's committed to giving back to the Boston community," says Molly Mastantuono, a Grand Circle Senior Copywriter who also served on the Associates' Fund team. "They also appreciate having a platform where they can share their passion, bringing more visibility—and, ultimately, financial support—to the deserving groups they're quietly supporting outside of the office."

Molly points out further that the Associates' Fund is also "wonderfully empowering" to those who serve. "After all, most of us aren't in a position to make $25,000 decisions on a daily basis!" she says. "And knowing what that money will be used for—helping at-risk youth develop self-esteem by learning and practicing martial arts, providing food and emotional support to homeless teens and young adults, helping lower-income students make their dreams of a college education a reality—really drives home the fact that the decisions we make during our hour-long meetings will have a lasting effect on people's lives for years to come."

Although grants can range from $500 to $5,000, all five of this year's recipients will receive a check for the maximum amount by year-end. These organizations include:

Boston Police Athletic League: This independent organization is dedicated to the positive development of Boston youth by leveraging the resources of the community and creating new opportunities. The Associates' Fund grant will be used to purchase materials (team uniforms, protective equipment, and training aids) associated with the Martial Arts program. Given a $50 cost per student, the grant will equip 100 students for the program.

Youth Connect: An advocacy and intervention program of Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, Youth Connect helps the most at-risk young people make positive life choices. It does this by intervening at critical moments, partnering with social workers and the Boston Police Department, and connecting these young people and their families with the social services that can most effectively help them with their individual needs. The Associates' Fund grant will be used to support the "Parent/Teen Toolbox" program, a pilot program serving youth involved in the juvenile justice system and their families. Specifically, the grant will cover the material costs of creating "toolboxes" filled with art supplies, therapeutic games, resource materials, transportation passes, and other items that social workers can leave with families after their regular visits. The goal of the "toolbox" program is to help social workers build better relationships with families by engaging and supporting them.

Good Sports: This unique organization serves as a conduit between donors and community organizations that offer programs to help disadvantaged youth lay the foundation for active, healthy lifestyles. Good Sports works directly with sporting goods companies to provide sports equipment, footwear, and apparel. Good Sports will match the Associates' Fund grant dollar for dollar, which means that the Fund's $5,000 grant will translate into $10,000 worth of equipment for organizations serving disadvantaged youth.

StandUp for Kids: Run almost entirely by volunteers, StandUp for Kids is dedicated to helping homeless and street kids stabilize and improve their lives. The Associates' Fund grant will support its Street Outreach Program, which serves homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 24. The donation will be used to purchase nutritious food and one-trip public transportation passes (which are used to access social services, and employment and educational programs) for outreach volunteers to distribute.

ACCESS: The innovative programs at ACCESS help to make sure that all young people in Boston are able to overcome financial barriers to higher education. The Associates' Fund grant will provide support for the organization's Community Engagement Program, which pairs a financial advisor with community-based organizations to provide low-income students (and their families) with advice and information about how to plan for and finance a college education.

Grand Circle Foundation congratulates these worthy recipients.

Featured in our December 2010 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here