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FIST Shares Message of Philanthropy with 5th Graders

By JoAnna Ness, Feb 5 2020 07:34PM

Steuben County Community Foundation’s youth philanthropy group, FIST, wrapped up their January 2020 meeting to the sound of cheers from the 5th grade students who were learning about philanthropy. FIST (Forever Improving Steuben County Together) is a group of 8th-12th grade students from Hamilton, Angola, and Fremont schools. They meet monthly to organize service projects and provide grant funding to inspire the youth of Steuben County to give their time, talent, and treasure back to the community.

This year, FIST has focused on a new initiative to teach younger students throughout the county about philanthropy—with grant dollars attached to the learning process. From September through January, FIST taught 5th grade students at the six schools in Fremont, Angola, and Hamilton about nonprofits and talked about ways they could help their community. This was part of a program they call FLIP, which stands for Future Leaders in Philanthropy. FIST members led the younger students through a discussion about local nonprofits, and then provided a $250 grant that the students could direct to a nonprofit of their choice. Students also brainstormed ways they could make a difference without grant money, such as shoveling sidewalks in winter and helping a neighbor take out the trash. In return for their hard work to understand philanthropy, each school’s 5th grade class received a $250 grant to use for field trips, projects, or other needs. In total, FIST was able to share the fundamentals of philanthropy with almost 240 5th grade students in Steuben County.

Morgan Stuckey, a sophomore from Hamilton who serves as the FIST PR Officer, shared “I like FLIP because it teaches the kids what it’s like to make an impact in the community, and that is the goal that we want to achieve.”

The nonprofits chosen throughout the year to receive these grants include Steuben County Cancer Association, Turning Point Homeless Shelter, Camp Watcha-Wanna-Do, Cahoots Coffee Café, Angola Kids League, and Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.

FIST would like to thank the middle and elementary schools for accommodating the FLIP program, the Steuben County Community Foundation board for their investment in FIST, and the administration and teachers from Hamilton, MSD of Steuben County, and Fremont who support FIST throughout the year.

Photos of the FLIP program at Fremont Middle School and Pleasant Lake Elementary School are included.