Student Philanthropy Council
The Franks wanted to establish the program at Hill to enable Hill students to carry out their shared belief that young people should volunteer their time and efforts to benefit their communities that will then establish life-long philanthropic interests.
In 2012, through the Franks' leadership and the generosity of several other donors, The Student Philanthropy Council became an endowed program at the School with the establishment of The Student Philanthropy Council Endowment in honor of Kay and David Dougherty (Hill's former headmaster from 1993-2012 and his wife).
Each year, the SPC awards $16,000 worth of grants to local non-profit organizations to help fund those entities’ programs (see below). Each fall, interested organizations are encouraged to submit a grant application to the SPC. Throughout the school year, the members of SPC have weekly meetings evaluating each proposal. The group also visits with each organization to discuss the proposal in person. Grant decisions are made in April, and check presentations occur in late-April or early-May each year.
History of the Student Philanthropy Council
Through the generous gift of Charles A. Frank, III '59 P'89 '90 and his wife, Elizabeth, Hill School students now have the opportunity to learn about the value and processes of philanthropy – and to provide funds to Pottstown organizations with missions that range from educating children to greening community parks.
On Thursday, October 2, 2008, Mr. and Mrs. Frank visited campus to officially launch a new program – the “Student Philanthropy Council” (SPC). The Franks met with Caitlin Klein '09, the first president of the SPC; Tyler Gofus '09 the first vice-president; and the 12 young men and women who were selected from nearly 50 student applicants eager to serve their School and the Pottstown community through this distinctive experience (pictured on right).
“We do not know of any other high schools in the nation that offer something like this, and there are only a few universities that claim a similar program,” said Klein, adding that Cornell, Davidson, and Colgate are a few of the colleges known to have created such endeavors.
The Franks’ desire to establish a philanthropy program at The Hill was tied to their wide-ranging involvement with civic endeavors and to their passionate, shared belief that young people should volunteer their time and efforts to benefit their communities – and that, through such efforts, students will develop life-long philanthropic habits and interests.
After much thought as well as some preliminary research, the Franks decided to make a generous gift of $35,000 to The Hill in 2008 for the purpose of establishing the SPC. To get the program started, Klein and Caitlin Manak '08 conducted research and created a “manual” regarding the operation of philanthropic organizations in the summer of 2008.
The 12 SPC representatives were selected by the SPC student leaders based on the quality of their written applications, interviews, and their sincere interest in committing considerable time to the group. The SPC met once a week to study the history and processes of philanthropy and – by Hill’s winter term – created and distributed Requests for Proposals to Pottstown area nonprofits. The students, with support from the group's first faculty advisers also visited the sites of the various organizations and spoke with each organization's respective administrators. A dinner was held in the Center For The Arts on April 27, 2009 to honor the work of the SPC grant recipient organizations, and the first grants were awarded two days later.
The $20,000 remaining from the Frank’s initial gift was distributed by the SPC to the Pottstown community in 2010 and 2011. The funds for 2012 grants were generously donated by Dr. and Mrs. Clement C. Alpert, grandparents of a member of The Hill's class of 2011. In 2012, through the Franks' leadership and the generosity of several other donors, The Student Philanthropy Council became an endowed program at the School with the establishment of The Student Philanthropy Council Endowment in honor of Kay and David Dougherty.
SPC Awards Grants for 2021
The Hill School is pleased to announce the Student Philanthropy Council awarded $20,000 in grants to 10 local nonprofit organizations for the 2020-21 academic year: Family Services of Montgomery County, Laurel House, Central Cultural Latinos Unidos (CCLU), Pottstown FARM, Steel River Playhouse, Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities, Bon Homie Better Days Foundation, Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project (MCAP), Good Samaritan Services, and the Foundation for Pottstown Education.
The SPC was established in 2009 through a gift to The Hill School courtesy of the late Charles A. Frank III, Hill '59 P'88 '90 and his wife, Betty. Hill student participants solicit and evaluate local nonprofit requests for funding, and then award a total of $10,000 in grants each year. Through the Franks' leadership and the generosity of several other donors, The Student Philanthropy Council became an endowed program at the School with the establishment of The Student Philanthropy Council Endowment in honor of Kay and David Dougherty in 2012. Thanks to additional funding, the School has been able to increase the amount for this year's grant total to $20,000.
Family Services of Montgomery County - $2,000
Family Services is a multi-service, nonprofit organization that has been serving residents of Montgomery County since 1900. They serve more than 12,000 residents annually through a variety of programs for children, families, and seniors. This year the SPC granted $2,000 for their Project HEARTH program, which has had an increase of service requests, yet a decline in donations. Project HEARTH offers five key services including professional in-home counseling, errand/transportation service, telephone reassurance, handyman chore service, and friendly visiting for the elderly. They also have employed a clinical social worker recently to help with the mental health of the elderly due to increases in counseling requests.
Laurel House - $1,000
Dedicated to the vision to end domestic violence, the Laurel House serves families in Montgomery County providing crisis intervention, counseling service, and preventative programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Laurel House had to close their walk-in offices and thrift shops to their clients, while still providing virtual assistance and giving supplies like personal care items and clothing to clients who needed them. The SPC granted $1,000 for sanitizing stations to be placed at their office in Pottstown and thrift shop in King of Prussia when they reopen. These are the primary locations that support residents of Pottstown.
Central Cultural Latinos Unidos (CCLU) - $1,775
Central Cultural Latinos Unidos (CCLU) is a bilingual bridge-building organization that is dedicated to enriching the lives of Latino youth and others by providing cultural, educational, and recreational programs along with social services to the greater Pottstown area. The SPC granted $1,775 to help fund their Ready for Life program. Obesity rates among Latino children are high in Pottstown, and the Ready for Life program aims to teach these children about how to make healthy life choices related to nutrition. The grant money will be used to purchase exercise equipment and a Zoom account. CCLU has enough space to conduct this program safely in person, with some overflow tuning into the class virtually via Zoom.
Pottstown FARM - $2,000
The Pottstown Farm and Artisan Regional Market (FARM) is a grassroots initiative whose mission is to provide fresh, locally grown, agricultural products and hand-made artisan goods to the Pottstown area. The SPC granted $2,000 to support the Pottstown FARM's program that further aids low-income individuals who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing them with additional money to spend at the market. Pottstown FARM gives SNAP recipients $5 in market coins that can be used to purchase essential/healthy foods. The grant will be used to increase this match to $10 per family, which will incentivize more visitors to the market and make healthy and organic foods more accessible to low-income families.
Steel River Playhouse - $4,246
Steel River Playhouse is a local, performing arts center whose mission is to strengthen the community, inspire creative exploration, educate, and entertain, through the presentation of quality performing arts events and education for diverse audiences. The SPC granted $4,246 to help fund scholarships for their summer programs: the Summer Intensive Production and the Summer Camp, each which runs for two weeks and ends with a culminating performance. Steel River has been hit dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has not had any income for the past 15 months. The award will impact many children in the Pottstown area as well as help revive the Steel River Playhouse.
Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities - $2,000
The Pottstown Cluster is an organization that seeks to meet basic needs and transform the Pottstown community through food security and personal care items. They also have a housing stability program that provides rental and fuel assistance. The SPC granted $2,000 to support the Cluster's Food Services/Security program, specifically to deliver staple foods to those individuals who can longer shop in person. Partnering with Smart Choice, an online and offline inventory system, the Cluster has created an organized and accessible client shopping experience.
Bon Homie Better Days Foundation - $3,000
Bon Homie Better Days Foundation is an organization whose focus is to provide opportunities for adults with special needs that result from aging, injuries, or disabilities. Its mission is to establish a sense of community within its members, giving clients the means of finding purpose, pride, and friendship through therapy, arts and crafts, and educational activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the center closed and shifted to online activities so clients could still participate in their program. The SPC granted Bon Homie $3,000 to help provide virtual entertainment and educational programs for clients, including music therapy, musical groups, cooking, reading, games, and gardening. These activities provide a means of socializing and building relationships for clients, which helps better their overall wellbeing.
Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project (MCAP) - $2,000
Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP) is an organization that provides legal services, education, and advocacy to help end and prevent child abuse. More than 140 thoroughly trained and background-checked volunteer attorney-advocates represent children to ensure their voices are heard in the courts and social service agencies. The SPC granted $2,000 to support training, operational fees, and background checks. The mission of MCAP has remained significant, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic as there has been a drastic increase in domestic violence.
Good Samaritan Services - $1,400
Good Samaritan Services gives immediate help to individuals who are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They serve around 400 people each year by granting them access to an emergency shelter, residential housing, and other housing support services. The SPC granted Good Samaritan $1,400 to fund two power generators for two houses in Phoenixville. An increase in major storms has led to the growing problem of power loss in the shelters; the generators will enhance the quality of life for the residents in these housing communities.
Foundation for Pottstown Education - $579
The Foundation for Pottstown Education supports, promotes, sponsors and carries out educational, scientific or charitable activities and objectives within or related to the Pottstown School District. The SPC granted $579 to help the Foundation fund a middle school Makerspace, giving students a creative and collaborative outlet to create and learn, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.