Meagan Rader joined El Pomar Youth in Community Service as a way to appeal to college admissions officers and future employers.
But once she got involved, Rader realized EPYCS is about much more.
"The main reason I joined was because it would look good on my resume," the Moffat County High School junior said. "When I learned more about it, it's more about morals and the importance of giving back to the community."
That's precisely the message Anita Allen, El Pomar Foundation adviser for the northwest region, wants students to grasp. She led the first block meeting of the year for the region Wednesday at Moffat County High School.
The region also includes Hayden High, Meeker High, Soroco High, Steamboat Springs High and Lowell Whiteman schools. About 15 students per school participate.
"It's a great way for students to give back to the community that gives them so much," Allen said.
The El Pomar Foundation asks Colorado high school students to distribute grant money the foundation gives them. EPYCS students must raise $500, then the foundation gives them $7,500 to divvy among qualifying agencies.
"It's not very often that students are empowered with money," Allen said.
Corrie Scott, Moffat County High School's EPYCS adviser, said EPYCS was started in Craig six years ago. El Pomar contacted the school about beginning a program at the high school.
In Moffat County, EPYCS participants are taken from the Key Club and Youth United Way groups. El Pomar contacted the school the same year Scott started Youth United Way.
"This just ties in so perfectly with what we do," Scott said. "It all fell into place the same year."
Scott said the organization teaches students responsibility and the importance of being involved in the community.
The group raises its local funds through mum sales during the high school's homecoming week. She also plans to sell concessions during the Craig-Steamboat basketball game in February.
Students conduct surveys in their schools to determine what types of programs students value. Then, schools each draft individual mission statements for the year.
Nonprofit agencies that fit that mission statement may apply for a portion of the grant money.
Moffat County's mission statement includes agencies that focus on education, youth and family.
Scott said the group typically allocates funds for eight to 10 organizations.
She said teachers and administrators may also apply for funds, perhaps for items or programs that are not in their budgets.
"This is the perfect opportunity for them to do that," Scott said.
Statewide, the program will donate about $1.1 million this year. The program is in place in 140 schools in 60 of 64 counties, Allen said.
The deadline to apply for EPYCS funds is Jan. 12. The winners are notified by mid-February and are recognized at a ceremony in May.
To apply, an agency must be a 501(c)3, and must provide their documentation of that status, or must be part of a school district. Visit https://epycs.elpomar.org for an application. For more information, call Scott at 824-6222.