The shoe was on the other foot Thursday night as adults sat patiently while high school students dished out their fates.
The students, from schools in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Craig and Meeker, doled out $40,000 in grant money during a grant presentation by the El Pomar Youth in Community Service program.
Through the philanthropic education EPYCS program, each of the four high schools was asked to raise $500. In return, each school was given $9,500, for a total of $10,000, and the freedom to award it to the nonprofit entities of their choice.
Requiring each school to raise money on its own was a way of helping students understand philanthropy.
Hayden High School students raised $800 by selling concessions at sporting events. The Hayden community also was very generous to the teenagers, but no matter how large an individual donation, students were allowed to record only $50 toward their $500 goal.
The Hayden students also obtained a tree permit and made wreaths to be auctioned at the Hayden Heritage Center's annual fund-raiser.
EPYCS is a major source of funding in Northwest Colorado and a responsibility taken seriously by the students.
Hayden High School students, who participated in the program for the first time this year, received 70 applications.
"It was really overwhelming," EPYCS adviser Margaret Berglund said.
The Hayden EPYCS Board polled students earlier in the year to determine the kind of projects they would fund. Surveys narrowed the list to Northwest Colorado nonprofits involved in the arts, education, health, recreation and the environment.
The first culling of the grant applications was easy. They threw out applications that weren't from Moffat or Routt counties and those that didn't match their mission statement.
Then the hard work began.
"This process was a good way for us to see all the different types of organizations (in our area)," Hayden High School junior Christina Reck said. "When we started taking a closer look at the applications, it was really hard to choose because there are so many good groups out there."
Each student took a few applications to review and brought back their findings to the group with recommendations.
Berglund noticed the students were especially interested in applications from LIFT-UP of Routt County, which provides food and financial assistance to the county's poor and unemployed, and The Haven, Hayden's senior living facility.
"They felt strongly that LIFT-UP has done a lot for Hayden," Berglund said. "They wanted to keep the money local and knew many families who have benefited from LIFT-UP services."
LIFT-UP received $2,000 from the students for their Hayden Food Bank.
The Haven asked for $500 to cover transportation costs for resident doctor visits.
"The Haven has a lot of support from the Hayden community," Berglund said. The students awarded them the full amount without much discussion.
Reck was given the EPYCS Student of the Year award by her school at Thursday night's banquet.
"She was consistently there at all the meetings," Berglund said. "She put in the work, and I could always count on her to do what I asked her to do."
Reck also arranged lunch for the EPYCS meetings. The group met once a week during lunch throughout the school year, as well as a few weekend and early morning meetings.
It was a lot of work, but Hayden High School sophomore Chris Willingham plans to participate again next year.
The second time around, however, he wants the group to be better prepared. When they started, no one knew how much work it was going to be, he said. He also wants to give more money to fewer organizations instead of spreading it out in smaller increments as they did during this funding cycle.
"Next year, I also want to look at giving more money to the elderly," Willingham said.
This was Steamboat's third year in the EPYCS program.
"This is a fabulous way for the students to get a better understanding of what's going on in their communities," Steamboat advisor Millie Beall said. "The kids told me they had no idea there were so many needs. They learn how to be a philanthropist. It's a big learning curve."
Beall's son, Ben Beall, was invited to speak at Thursday night's dinner. Ben Beall participated in the EPYCS program three years ago and wanted students to understand what a good introduction it was to their future.
Ben Beall is a sophomore in college studying civil engineering and participating in El Pomar's scholarship leadership program.
On Thursday night, it was announced that Soroco High School will join the EPYCS program next year, bring the funding level up to $50,000 for money awarded in Northwest Colorado by high school students.
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