Local students learn to create own non-profits

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – Children are seen as the future, and some in Schenectady are learning the tools to quite possibly change the world.

A year-long program at the Brown School in Schenectady is teaching students how to create their own non-profit organizations. When the program is finished, they will have created mock organizations along with fundraising and advertising.

“My business that I’m trying to start, I didn’t really know how to start it,” sixth grader Lia Richter said. “I thought it was just create it, get money, do it.”

The students have already written their mission statements and are learning how to get started.

“The goal is for them to know that they have the power within themselves to make change in the world and be an agent of change,” Nina Benway, Director of the Ignite Program, said.

Sam Calos is a 12-year-old seventh grader.

“I’m really interested in environmental stuff, and I saw a documentary on the means that we use to fish certain animals and how we are destroying ocean habitats, and I’m just really interested in trying to start up a non-profit that would try to help that cause,” he said.

The students heard from Mission Accomplished CEO and founder Carmen Duncan on Wednesday.

“It’s very important that you develop the skills to engage public speaking,” she said.

The students appreciated Duncan’s advice.

“Being young and trying to start something like this, you don’t really know what you’re doing at first,” Richter said. “So being able to have someone that you can look to and ask is really helpful.”

Duncan told the students the story of how she became homeless at the age of 16 and that her organization reflects the coaching and help she got during that time sending another message that anyone can create change.


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