Two Island organizations get grants from AG

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Two Martha’s Vineyard organizations are among 74 statewide that will share nearly $300,000 in grant funding to help pay for summer jobs for young people that are focused on promoting health and wellness, according to a press release from Attorney General Maura Healey.

The program, which is in its seventh year, is called the Healthy Summer Youth Jobs Grant Program, which enables teens to have a direct impact in their communities by working in jobs that promote good nutrition, physical fitness, and healthy living, the release states. The grant program is funded with healthcare and fair-labor-related settlement money from the AG’s office. 

On the Island, Island Grown Initiative and Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club received the funds.

Rebecca Haag, executive director of Island Grown Initiative, said it’s the nonprofit’s third year of getting the grants, which allow them to hire two young workers to help out — David Murray and Clara Colas.

Murray works helping with the food equity programs — helping to distribute lunches at the high school and with gleaning, where food is given to the Food Pantry, senior centers, and the IGI lunch program.

Meanwhile, Colas is working as a regenerative farm field hand —pulling tarps and harvesting fresh vegetables. “She’s getting her hands dirty out in the fields,” Haag said. 

Haag said IGI is thrilled to have the help, and employs the young workers throughout the summer.

“It’s like having an extra pair of hands for us,” she said. “As a nonprofit, we probably wouldn’t be able to hire these young people.”

At the Boys & Girls Club, they’ve used the funds to hire two junior counselors. Dhakir Warren, the club’s new executive director, told The Times the club is honored to be a recipient.

“These critical resources allowed the club to increase the number of paid camp counselor positions, expanding our capacity to provide Island children with a quality camp experience during the summer months,” he wrote in an email. “Summer employment opportunities which allow youth to give back to their local community play a critical role in their development of essential life and social skills. We are grateful to the AG’s office for the grant and its focus on supporting efforts that allow young people to deliver community impact.”

The point of the grant program is to provide hundreds of teens across the state with an opportunity to challenge themselves, gain new skills, and make a difference in their own communities by promoting healthy living, Healey said in the release. “We have worked hard to continue this program each year, and are grateful to our grantees for making important adjustments to their programs to ensure employed teens are safe as we recover from the pandemic.”

The grant funding is from July 5 to Sept. 3, the release states.

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