$100,000 Available for Centre Inspires Ideas, Due by July 27

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What project would you like to implement to meet a local need and encourage the people of Centre County to become more engaged in their community? This is the question that applicants are answering to secure funding from Centre Foundation’s $100,000 Centre Inspires granting program. “We’re excited to see what ideas there are to make our community an even more engaging place to live,” said Molly Kunkel, Executive Director of Centre Foundation.  “In prior years, the Centre Inspires grant program has brought the community projects like the Book Benches, Food Centres, and Centred Outdoors!” To learn more about Centre Inspires, read the granting program guidelines, and apply ahead of the July 27th deadline, please click here. For more information, please contact Centre Foundation’s Grant & Scholarship Coordinator, Ashley Pipe, at 814-237-6229 or by e-mail at

Looking for a $10,000 grant opportunity? The Giving Circle is accepting applications through June 23rd.

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Do you know a Centre County non-profit organization in need of a $10,000 grant? Centre Foundation’s Giving Circle members are currently accepting grant proposals through the June 23rd deadline. “Organizations with a new idea, program, or project have been historically popular with the Giving Circle members,” explained Molly Kunkel, Centre Foundation Executive Director. “Members like to see tangible impact projects completed in the near-term, especially projects that will serve some of the more vulnerable populations in Centre County.” “After the grant proposals are received in June, the Giving Circle members will narrow the field to their top three organizations,” continued Kunkel. “These final three organizations will make a live presentation at the August 30th cocktail reception and are guaranteed a grant, but the Giving Circle members’ votes that evening will determine which organization receives the $10,000 grant.” Since the Giving Circle was established in 2006 to commemorate the Foundation’s 25th anniversary, the members have pooled their resources and voted to distribute $109,000 in grants to programs throughout Centre County. This year, Giving Circle members will meet at Above the Valley on August 30th.   “Alone, someone may not be able to fund a $10,000 grant project,” added Kunkel, “Together, as part of the Giving Circle, members are able to make a big impact in our community!” Annual membership in the Giving Circle ranges from $125-$500 according to age.  Online, monthly payment options are also available. Previous recipients of Giving Circle grant include Interfaith Human Services, Centre Volunteers in Medicine, House of Care, Discovery Space, Housing Transitions, Strawberry Fields, and Centre Helps (formerly the Community Help Centre).  These grants have funded financial care programs, women’s reproductive health programs, a preschool remodeling and removal of asbestos, a new roof, and many more crucial projects.For more information about how to apply for the $10,000 Giving Circle grant or how to join the Giving Circle, please contact Centre Foundation at 814-237-6229.

Guinness World Record Set by 5,622 Ice Luminaries

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A Guinness World Record has been officially set by the hundreds of community members who participated in the February 4th “Light Up State College” event that featured a record-setting 5,622 ice luminaries filling Allen Street in downtown State College. “We wanted to transform Downtown State College into a winter wonderland and achieve a world record, but we knew we needed the community to make it happen” John Stitzinger, event organizer and a founder of The Make Space, said. Stitzinger received a grant to fund his idea via the the Knight Cities Challenge (KCC), which funds ideas to make communities more vibrant places to live and work.  Ideas like Stitzinger’s are eligible for KCC and other granting programs sponsored by the Knight Foundation through the greater State College area’s designation as a Knight Community.  Centre Foundation has a long-standing relationship and is proud to partner with Knight Foundation on these types of innovative projects.     “Making and freezing luminaries became the focus of attention of our town citizens and surrounding community for about two weeks in the dead of winter last year,” State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham remembered.  “On that evening early in February a crowd began to gather at dusk.  People ignored the cold as they watched the luminaries fill the street and then ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ as they were lit, forming a transfixing blanket of what one little girl called 'stars'…Everyone stayed until the final tally was announced, then stayed afterwards to enjoy the friendly atmosphere.  I saw people I hadn't seen for years, as well as neighbors and friends who were crowded together along the main street of State College, Pennsylvania.” The previous world record was set in 2013 by the residents Vuollerim, Sweden, who made 2,651 separate lanterns.  “As the lanterns were counted and we realized that the previous record was more than doubled, a real sense of pride and accomplishment flowed through the crowd,” recounted Commissioner Steven Dershem. “Our community owes a debt of gratitude to Make Space, Centre Foundation, and the volunteers throughout Centre County for a fantastic event!” A team of several dozen volunteers began setting up on Allen Street in the morning and worked for several hours until the drop-off time arrived.  By 2:00 pm, a line had formed at the drop-off table as community members, kids, and families began bringing their frozen luminaries from home.  Many had frozen multiple luminaries, with 21 being the most from a single household. "This world record was made possible by the thousands of Centre County residents and many volunteers who came together to showcase the amazing and connected community we are a part of," said Commissioner Michael Pipe.According to Guinness, ice luminaries are cup-shaped structures made purely out of ice that hold a light inside. Instructions on how to make one can be viewed at “The world record attempt was a lot of fun,” Commissioner Mark Higgins noted.  “It brought everyone from the community together to work toward a common goal. And boy did it look marvelous when we were done.” Shortly after 6:00 pm, the sun had set, all 5,622 luminaries were set-up and lit, and the official count and required five minute waiting period had passed.  It was time for the crowd to enjoy what they had accomplished together.  Hundreds of people patiently awaited their turn to stroll through the meandering path of glowing luminaries, pausing for the obligatory picture and enjoying the record-setting evening. “Light Up State College was such a unique event,” said Molly Kunkel, Executive Director at Centre Foundation.  “We were happy to help John and the Make Space bring this idea to life, excited to see the community embrace the idea in such a big way, and thrilled with the way the night ended – thousands of lights and just as many smiles!” The Make Space is a nonprofit, community makerspace and workshop tailored to anyone who enjoys creating new things, sharing knowledge and working across boundaries in the arts and technology. The volunteer-run organization holds an open house at the space every Wednesday at 6:00 pm at 141 South Fraser Street in downtown State College. For more information about this record-setting event, please visit  To print your own certificate, please click here.  And, to view a video of the event, please click here.  Centre Foundation’s mission is to inspire and facilitate a culture of giving to create a vibrant community. ###More pictures:

Centre PACT Students: Grant $8,495 to Six Local Organizations

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A group of Centre County high school students awarded $8,495 to six local non-profit organizations as the culmination of their year-long participation in Centre PACT (Philanthropic Actions Created by Teens), a program of Centre Foundation. “I am tremendously excited about the impact our funding will make for all the organizations we have chosen to support,” said Aja Kukic-Bartoo, a member of Centre PACT. In September, the students kicked-off the program by selecting the theme of “Educating and Inspiring Youth for a Healthier, Brighter Future,” which guided their granting decisions in April.  “Since September, these amazing students have rolled up their sleeves and learned about philanthropy in a very hands-on way, learning everything from granting to fundraising,” said Molly Kunkel, Executive Director at Centre Foundation. “They have made such an impact, and in the areas that really speak to them. It’s been so inspiring to watch these young philanthropists grow during the course of this program.” After creating their own grant application process and putting out a request for proposal, the students reviewed the applications.  Finalist organizations received a site visit from a cohort of the students so that they could view the program up close, see the impact, and ask the staff questions. “The grant application process and site visits allowed the students to learn more about the nuts and bolts of granting, as well as provided them with a window into how non-profits operate,” explained Kunkel. The students began the year with a $1,000 granting pool provided by Centre Foundation and $2,000 from a recently opened endowment fund for their group, but quickly realized their appetite for impact was much larger.  So, they began a prospecting campaign that ultimately raised $5,495 from 37 community supporters. “The students’ dedication to expanding their impact was commendable, allowing them to make grants to six organizations,” said Kunkel. Students, parents, community supporters, and non-profit representatives were on hand for a check presentation party, which also marked the end of the program’s second year. Centre PACT students Joanna Switala and Emma Riglin presented $750.00 to Front & Centre Productions of Philipsburg. “I’m excited about giving money to Front & Centre Productions,” noted Riglin. “I have experienced their program and their impact.  They truly provide great programs for youth in Centre County, especially Philipsburg which is so important.” "It is an honor to be receiving a grant from the amazing young philanthropists of Centre PACT,” said Stephen Switala, Executive Director of Front & Centre Productions.  “We are excited to utilize the grant to offer a Children's Choir to our community as another outlet for youth creativity through the arts.  INSPIRE Children's Choir will offer young vocalists the opportunity to sing with others while spreading a message of inspiration, self-worth, and encouragement through music." Ann Marie Paul and Kukic-Bartoo presented $872.50 to Darren and Anne Narber of Penns Valley Youth Center (PVYC), which serves 6th – 12th grade students in the Penns Valley area.  The funding will establish a new Integrative Arts Program, helping students to strengthen their success in and out of the classroom. This was the second year that PVYC received a grant from Centre PACT students.  Darren Narber noted his appreciation for the growing relationship with Centre PACT students, whose financial support has positively impacted students attending PVYC. Joey Feffer, Patrick McNutt, and Katherine Kim presented $872.50 to Debbie Lower and Gail Addison-Guss of Park Forest Preschool (PFP) for the Love of Arts program.  This grant will provide funding to enhance the music and art programs with more instruments, art easels, and other materials needed for open-ended arts activities. Kim remarked that this grant would “give every kid the opportunity to become the best that they can be.” “With this grant, the children at Park Forest Preschool will be painting, dancing, playing instruments, and singing to creatively support the development of the whole child,” said Addison-Guss, board chair of PFP. Bella DiNallo, Brontë Clingham-David, and Grace Handler presented $1,000.00 to Marisa Vicere of the Jana Marie Foundation (JMF), also a second-time recipient of a Centre PACT grant. Paul added that “it’s really great that the Jana Marie Foundation’s JAM sessions are now fully funded because they are the first co-ed creative expression programs that Jana Marie Foundation has.” “We are so grateful for the support of Centre PACT,” said Vicere, President of JMF. “Because of their ambition and dedication to improving Centre County, Jana Marie Foundation can continue our efforts to enhance creative thinking and mental well-being of adolescents, ages 11-17, by offering J.A.M. Sessions. Art, music, and creative expression are lifelong sources of resilience, self-confidence, and happiness. Thanks to Centre PACT, young people will have the opportunity to experience the benefits of creative expression.”Nick Feffer, Saoirse Hopp, and Will Wagner Henne presented $2,000.00 to Andrea Fisher of the Youth Service Bureau (YSB) for the Neighborhood Outreach program.   “After visiting the Youth Service Bureau site and hearing about all the work they do in the community, I feel very confident in granting this money to their program and believe it will make a very positive impact,” said Jackie Saleeby, reflecting on the students’ site visit to YSB. “Their program to reach out to less privileged children could change their lives so early on,” added Centre PACT student Caroline Sparrow.  Fisher commended the students’ efforts, noting that the grant will provide six months of program funding. The Neighborhood Outreach program sends staff into the field to interact with at-risk youth who experience family strife and poverty.  The YSB staff members provide healthy snacks, activities, mentoring, homework help, and hope. The final grant of the evening was presented by Sparrow, Saleeby, and Joy Zhu.  The students presented a $3,000.00 grant to Bella Bregar and Barb Alpert of the ACRES Project, which provides support for individuals with autism. “The ACRES project is close to my heart because I have a family member with autism,” Clingham-David shared. “Knowing that I can improve the lives of people like her in my own community is very important to me.”  “After going on a site visit and meeting people involved with ACRES, I am excited to see the impact their after-school activity will have, both in the short-term and long-term,” reflected McNutt. “We are so humbled to receive this grant,” said Bregar, Executive Director of ACRES Project.  “It will allow us to provide a nine-week social group program, free of charge to young adults or high school students.  It will provide a safe space to discuss and learn about friendship, social differences, and how to handle uncomfortable social situations. We are so excited to be able to offer this group.”  Perfect attendance awards were also presented to Emma Riglin and Joanna Switala, students from the Philipsburg-Osceola School District who travelled to State College for the monthly Centre PACT meetings.  Graduating high school seniors included Nick Feffer (Dartmouth, Biology), Joey Feffer (Harvard, Applied Math), Emma Riglin (Pennsylvania  State University, Public Relations), and Katherine Kim (Carnegie Mellon University, Biology). Two Class of 2017 - Penn State students who helped found the Centre PACT program and served as collegiate advisors for the past two years were also recognized, Carver and McQuillin Murphy.  The Murphys saw the program grow from a concept, to a pilot program with seven students raising $5,000, to this year’s program with 18 students. Centre County high school students may apply to join Centre PACT during fall recruitment, which will begin as schools reopen in August and September.  For more information, please visit or contact Irene Miller, Development & Events Coordinator (814.237.6229 | pictures from the grant check party:Read more about the Centre PACT program:March 2017 - Centre PACT hands-on impact!Click to see the impact that the students of Centre PACT 2015-2016 had in our community!