Season for Sharing grant helps youth give back to their communities

·3 min read
High school students volunteer to read to young children virtually.
High school students volunteer to read to young children virtually.

AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute provides a pathway to college by involving youth in the arts, literature, service learning, civic engagement and social justice issues. The group values personal development as a key component for students to be successful in college and in life.

High school students get help with college preparation, career exploration and leadership development. The aim of this work: to inspire students to take part and give back to their communities.

As high school students participate in AGUILA’s Storytime virtual reading program for children ages 2-8, they gain volunteer hours necessary for scholarship and college applications. The group hopes to acquire a bookmobile vehicle to bring books to children who do not have access to libraries and for in-person Storytime.

“AGUILA is grateful for this wonderful opportunity to serve young children by older children ... (It's) not only encouraged the benefits of reading, but, most importantly, in the act of giving of oneself in contributing to our communities through education,” said founder Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez.

Last year, the Maryvale-based nonprofit received a $7,500 grant from the Arizona Republic-sponsored Season for Sharing. In total, $2.1 million went to 176 organizations that help children and families, teachers and students and older Arizonans. This year's fundraising campaign continues through Jan. 31.

HOW TO DONATE: Click here to make an online gift to Season for Sharing.

How many people do you help each year? Approximately 500 children and their families are served, encouraging adults and older siblings to participate in the reading journey. Additionally, approximately 100 AGUILA high school and college students volunteer to read with some who are on a college track to become educators.

How was the Season for Sharing Grant spent? Funds for AGUILA Storytime were utilized for books, both hard copy and digital books; partial cost for Zoom subscription; and marketing.

How do you gauge your success? Volunteer participation and feedback as well as feedback from individuals, parents and the reaction of young children delighting in story.

What are your organization’s greatest needs? Funding for additional staff to provide continued services to children, particularly those in underserved communities.

What is the future vision for your organization? AGUILA has expanded Storytime to partner with Barrio Bookmobile that will work with schools where AGUILA programming is implemented to provide free books. We look forward to receiving book donations and funds to purchase appropriate age level books for children.

Share a success story? A 4-year-old girl enjoys story time so much that she asks to attend it every day. Since story time is provided virtually, the girl believes that it is her own personal reading session. Even at her young age she has fostered a love of reading because of the work of our volunteers and the program.

Ways to give to Season for Sharing

  • Fill out the secure, online form at sharing.azcentral.com.

  • Text “SHARING” to 91-999 and click on the link in the text message.

  • Go online at facebook.com/seasonforsharing and look for the “DONATE HERE” post.

  • Clip the coupon on Page 4A of The Arizona Republic, fill it out and mail it to P.O. Box 29250, Phoenix AZ 85038-9250.

Scan the QR code with your smartphone camera and click on the link to donate to Season for Sharing.
Scan the QR code with your smartphone camera and click on the link to donate to Season for Sharing.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Maryvale nonprofit encourages youth to give back to their communities

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