Forever Improving Steuben County Together
FIST is a youth philanthropy organization founded by the Dekko Foundation under the direction of the Steuben County Community Foundation. Students from Hamilton, Angola, and Fremont become members as 7th graders and remain through high school. Each school has an adult representative. The focus of the group is to promote philanthropy among young people.
FIST meets once a month to plan ways to empower the youth of Steuben County and assist in service projects. Collectively they donate more than 1000 hours a year of their time to improve their communities. In addition to volunteering their time and talents through service projects in the community, FIST offers grants to community nonprofits and school projects that promote youth involvement in philanthropy.
Each year, FIST develops new ideas about how they make a difference in Steuben County. Their mission statement is “to inspire the youth of Steuben County to become the leaders of tomorrow by sharing their resources and empowering others to donate their time, talents, and treasures.”
In the last few years, their projects have included:
- Trick or Treat for Canned Goods, gathering around 10,000 canned good items each year to donate to local food pantries
- Grants to classrooms and nonprofits who provide ways for young people to give back to their community
- FLIP (Future Leaders in Philanthropy), where FIST members teach 5th-grade students across Steuben County about giving their time, talent, and treasure. They also teach them about grantmaking and help the classes award $250 grants to nonprofits.
- Volunteering with other nonprofits and community events, such as Cahoots Coffee Cafe, the WLKI Pie Auction and Cops for Kids
Meet the FIST President
Wylie Fredrick is a rising junior at Angola High School and is the 2022-2023 FIST president. Wylie has been in FIST since she was in 7th grade and plans to stay involved throughout high school. She joined FIST because she loves to help people especially in her community and make others happy. Wylie said that seeing people’s reactions and smiles is what motivates her to continue to give her time. Wylie’s favorite FIST memory was baking pies at a fellow member’s house, she thrives when socializing with her peers.
Since joining FIST, Wylie says she is much better at public speaking and has learned to interact with all kinds of people in difficult situations. She can now delegate to her peers and grow with them as they navigate youth philanthropy together. She strives to make a difference no matter how little and encourages the other members to do the same. Wylie has expressed to her fellow members her excitement to make an impact on the FIST group this year and give back to the community.
Meet the rest of the FIST board
FIST often accepts applications for grants for nonprofit and school projects that impact the youth of Steuben County. FIST’s goal is to fund projects that will teach young members of our community how to be a philanthropist. FIST is also looking forward to opportunities to volunteer at events. FIST hopes to inspire local nonprofit organizations to involve the youth who will be our community leaders in the future.
Any school employee or nonprofit organization in Steuben County or that serves Steuben County is eligible to apply for a FIST grant, including churches and service clubs. Grants of up to $1000 will be awarded to activities that correspond with the FIST mission statement. The application requires a description of the project, itemized budget or estimates, and must demonstrate how it connects with the mission of FIST.
The grant cycle is currently closed.
FIST will not fund shipping/handling, food items and transportation costs.