Athens students debate merits of funding local projects

By  | April 8, 2017 | Filed under: News

ATHENS-Local high school students fiercely debated funding projects that would improve their city during the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission’s March meeting.


Dekko Foundation provided a $2,000 grant to Mayor Ronnie Marks for a project that would empower youth. Marks gave the Youth Commission authority to allocate the funds to teach them responsibility, decision making and how to compromise.


Youth Commissioners chose to allocate half for mini-grants for non-profits that have projects benefitting the City of Athens. In addition, the students had $400 left from last year’s Dekko grant and received a $150 in donations to fund projects totaling $1,550. Nine groups submitted grant proposals ranging from grief counseling to supporting children who have a sibling battling cancer.


“It was fun to watch the students argue for their favorite project,” Marks said. “They were passionate about expressing their opinions, but in the end, they came together and compromised.”


The deliberations included dividing the funds between all nine to choosing their top three in order to provide more money and make a more significant impact.


“I think we need to fund projects that reach the most people,” Youth Commissioner Molly Kilpatrick said.


Youth Commissioner Kade Sparks disagreed and said, “The smaller programs do not receive as much attention and need the funding more than the projects that do reach the most people.”


The students agreed to fund the three projects that each mentor group supported and then debated how to spend the remainder. This is a breakdown of the $2,550, which includes the mini-grants.


  • Kept $500 for their Art Corner project at City Hall where Athens and Limestone County students compete in an art contest; and to fund projects that attract their interest throughout the year.


  • Kept $500 for a one-time scholarship for a senior member graduating this May. An independent committee is reviewing and scoring those scholarships.


  • Awarded $350 to Hospice of Limestone County for Camp Hope, a grief counseling program for children. Money will fund feeling pillows for each child to hug as they remember their lost loved one.


  • Awarded $350 to Eli’s Block Party Childhood Cancer Foundation for sibling survival sacks. These are given to children who have a brother or sister battling cancer. These children often sit in waiting rooms or stay with other family members and babysitters when their sibling is undergoing treatments. The sacks have age appropriate material and a note of encouragement that they can take with them.


  • Awarded $350 to Athens Arts League for its “Every Child Is An Artist” program. The funding will provide free art classes for foster children who are interested in art but their foster families cannot afford classes. Instructors will teach the children that art is an expression of their ideas and feelings and that each of their creations should be different and reflect who they are as a person. This program also aims to help foster children build self-confidence.
  • Awarded $225 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Alabama for community-based mentor programs in Limestone County. This includes weekly or bi-weekly outings between the mentor and child to help them develop a relationship and explore interests. The vast majority of children in this program are from single parent homes on the lower end of the socio-economic scale.


  • Awarded $225 to Friends of the Scout House Committee for a sign to denote the facility as the future Scout Music House. The sign will resemble the wooden sign that once graced the building when Athens City Schools had a central office there. The sign will help bring awareness to the renovation project to turn this historic structure into a music venue.


  • Awarded $50 to Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful to help sponsor the annual Earth Day event that provides free activities for the public to provide education regarding environmental stewardship. Earth Day will be April 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Friendship United Methodist Church.
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