Youth Philanthropy

H.A.N.D.S. Foundation

H.A.N.D.S. (Helping Achieve new Direction through Students) is a 18-member student group (six students from each of the three county school systems), grades 8-12 that meets monthly to discuss community needs, review grant requests and allocate funding to projects with an educational focus. The youth group is the result of a collaborative effort between the Dekko Foundation, the Community Foundation and three public school systems in Whitley County.

Members are selected by their school administrators, and are chosen for their leadership capabilities and sound academic record. Once selected as 7th graders, students stay in the program for five years.

In addition to making grants, the group created Charitable Champions, a program where 8th graders learn about nonprofits and then get a chance to grant real dollars to those same nonprofits

Grant requests to the H.A.N.D.S. Foundation are accepted from September through April each year.

Youth philanthropy is alive and well In Whitley County! Members of the H.A.N.D.S. Foundation meet monthly to review funding requests from local educators and hone their leadership skills. Back row, left to right: Sophie Augustus, Sariah Arnold, Eva Refeld, Evan Powell, Kaden Manth, Sam Bechtold, Ethan Hess, Maylan Wagner Front row, left to right: Anna Lortie, Anna Sickafoose, Jada Peer, Jerryn Pettigrew, Kelsee Coil, Kohen Schipper, Blake Schroeder, Micah Slabach

2022 - 2023 H.A.N.D.S. Members


  • Maylan Wagner
  • Jerryn Pettigrew
  • Anna Lortie
  • Sam Bechtold
  • Sariah Arnold


  • Kelsee Coil
  • Evan Powell
  • Eva Refeld
  • Jada Peer
  • Ethan Hess
  • Kaden Manth


  • Sophie Augustus
  • Blake Schroeder
  • Anna Sickafoose
  • Kohen Schipper
  • Micah Slabach

Sample H.A.N.D.S. Grants

$900.00 – Columbia City High School: Digital SLR Camera for use in all photography, graphic design, and web design classes

$768.00 – The Center for Whitley County Youth: Audio system updates and computer needs

$800.00 – Smith-Green Community School Corp.: Supplies to implement archery program for K-12

$474.00 – Whitko School Corporation: Update safety equipment in metals classroom

$500.00 – Donovan Kessler Little Swimmers Scholarship Endowment: Provides free swim lessons to preschool aged children

Thank you, Hands!

A.C.T.S Achieving Changes Through Students

A.C.T.S., Achieving Changes Through Students, started in the fall of 2017.  A.C.T.S. is a youth philanthropy collaborative effort with the Community Foundation, The Center for Whitley County Youth, T.R.O.Y. Alternative School, and Whitley County Home School coalition. The mission is to educate young adults about philanthropy and nonprofits in the area and also to develop leadership skills.

Over the last two years, A.C.T.S created “good luck” packages for the Whitley County Dazzlers (a special needs cheer squad) as they left for nationals in Orlando. They also hosted a picnic for Passages’ clients.

Funding for grants was made possible by the Dekko Foundation and the Community Foundation.

A.C.T.S. group presents a check to Vanessa Bills, Night to Shine Committee Member

The following local nonprofits received proactive grants from A.C.T.S.

  • Mission 25
  • B.A.B.E.
  • Circle of Friends
  • Night to Shine
  • One Community for summer kids’ program
  • Whitley County Humane Shelter

H.A.N.D.S. Expands Charitable Champions Emerge

“We want the students to learn how to identify what needs exist in their community and develop real-life problem solving skills. Here’s a need or a problem, what can you do?”
Amy Shearer - 8th grade Teacher at Indian Springs Middle School

Charitable Champions Videos

Charitable Champions Workbook

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