YMCA opens grant applications for local youth leaders

Olympic Peninsula YMCA is accepting applications for the YMCA Dennis Watson Spirit of TEAM Grant.

The Olympic Peninsula YMCA is accepting applications now for the 2020-2021 YMCA Dennis Watson Spirit of TEAM Grant.

Now in its fourth year, the grant is open to Olympic Peninsula youth group leaders and teachers working with middle school students who have a program or project idea that upholds the ideals of the YMCA and “promotes team-building, encourages inclusion, provides social emotional support or fosters good communication,” YMCA representatives said last week.

Applicants can request up to $1,500 to support their program or project. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25.

The grant was developed to honor the legacy of Sequim resident Dennis Watson, who died in December of 2016. Watson was deeply committed to the success of young people in the community and devoted nearly 20 years to the YMCA as a board member, volunteer and financial supporter, YMCA representatives said

During his time with the YMCA, Watson promoted the YMCA Middle School Program T.E.A.M that helped eighth-graders improve communication and team-building skills, increased leaderships, and helped them grow as compassionate individuals.

A team of former co-workers, YMCA teen program alumni, friends, family and YMCA staff partnered to create the Dennis Watson Memorial Fund and Grant.

Last year, three Olympic Peninsula Educators and Youth Programs were awarded grants through the YMCA Fund to support their team-building projects. Grant awards ranged from $1,000-$1,500 and checks were provided to: Port Angeles School District AmeriCorps Program School, to support the creation of a new team-building club at Stevens Middle School; Port Townsend Maritime Center, to support the Bravo Team, a longboat seamanship, team-building and environmental learning program, and Jefferson County 4-H to support facilitator trainings at Gibbs Lake Challenge Course.

“As a grant committee, we are honored to carry Dennis Watson’s commitment to youth programs forward,” said Christine Loewe, Grant Committee Chair and former YMCA of Port Angeles Teen Program Director.

”We have given away $12,500 since the inception of the grant. Given the incredible challenges that youth educators and leaders are currently facing in connecting with their students during the pandemic, we hope that these funds will help plant the seed for new creative ideas.

“Having partnered with Dennis to connect with thousands of young people from our local communities, I know that team-building and communication work with teens has an incredible lasting impact. This grant gives community members the opportunity to take part in creating much needed opportunities for local teens.”

Learn more about the YMCA Spirit of TEAM Grant, download an application or make a donation at www.olympicpeninsulaymca.org/spiritofteamgrant.

For more information about the grant, email to grants@olympicpeninsulaymca.org.

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