In 1994, the United Way of Washington County-East formed the Youth United Way. The goal was to teach philanthropy to the next generation of donors and provide opportunities for youth to be involved in their home community. The Youth United Way program is youth-led, electing their own president (or copresidents) who serve on the United Way of Washington County-East board of directors. They are a peer-led group, determining their own community priorities and activities with guidance from United Way staff and volunteers. The Youth United Way program provides a unique and valuable experience in organizing, volunteering, time management, leadership, and philanthropy for a wide variety of teens in grades 6-12.
The group holds their own fundraiser each year, with their largest and most substantial event the annual Empty Bowls Dinner to raise money for the local hunger programs. The goal of this event, which takes place every March, is to raise awareness that hunger can exist in our own community. Funds raised by the Youth United Way are distributed through their own grant/community investment process. As a group, they review all funding requests and make funding decisions.
Youth United Way accepts applications from local youth and hunger organizations and allocates the money raised throughout the year to organizations based right in the Stillwater Area. Youth United Way has raised and distributed more than $20,000 to local youth and hunger programs in the Stillwater Area. They help support feeding the hungry in our community through Valley Outreach, provide school-based services aimed at preventing and reducing youth chemical use through the Youth Service Bureau, horseback riding to people with disabilities through Courage Kenny Riders, school-based mental health with help from FamilyMeans, and other programs supported by our partner organizations.