The Youth Leadership Collier (YLC) Class of 2020 distributed $10,000 in grants, funded by a Community Foundation of Collier County donor, to three local charities as part of the inaugural Youth Community Leadership Project. A partnership of the Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF) of the Greater Naples Chamber and the Community Foundation of Collier County, the project provides Youth Leadership Collier participants with a real-world experience identifying issues in their community and awarding grants to fund solutions.

The Community Foundation of Collier County contacted the Leadership Collier Foundation, which oversees the Youth Leadership Collier program, after it was approached by Naples resident Betty Frank, who inquired about starting a student-led organization. Frank and her late husband, Charles Frank, started a similar initiative in Pennsylvania more than a decade ago, and donated $10,000 to Collier’s inaugural Youth Community Leadership Project.

Youth Leadership Collier aims to activate the leadership potential of Collier County students through education and hands-on learning experiences. The Youth Community Leadership Project fits into the mission of the Leadership Collier Foundation by giving students the opportunity to be informed, be engaged and be the difference in their community. After reviewing the Community Needs Assessment, a joint project between the Community Foundation and Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, the Community Foundation granted $10,000 for this project. The students then awarded $3,500 apiece to Grace Place for Children and Families and Pathways Early Education Center, and $3,000 was awarded to Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida. The grants are focused on issues related to career counseling for students, housing gaps and food shortages.

“The YLC Community Project Council did a tremendous job,” said Amanda Beights, senior director of leadership programs at the Greater Naples Chamber. “They went through a very real grant review and selection process and I was impressed with the high-level thinking displayed by the students; their work was at the level of adult leaders in Collier County.”

Frank has committed to funding the first two years of the program.

“I think this was a hard one to start in the middle of a pandemic, but they got it done,” she said. “It’s meaningful. If these kids learn about the needs in the community and what a $3,000 gift can do for an organization doing good work in the community, then it’s worth it.”