Morris County School of Technology and Main Street Philanthropy Announce Revolutionary Program Launch of “The Main Street Philanthropy Academy”

Photo: Courtesy of Karen Mancinelli

Morris County School of Technology and Main Street Philanthropy launched a unique partnership that created a dynamic, real world experience in charitable giving and fundraising.  This 10-week process brought together small groups of students, their classroom teacher, a Main Street Philanthropy Ambassador, generous donors and front-line charities, all of whom will benefit from this remarkable collaboration.  


Using donated funds and money they raise themselves, students identified local charities whose missions align with the students’ charitable passions.  Working in small groups, students examined these organizations’ tax returns and evaluated their effectiveness in accomplishing their charitable purposes. They interviewed officers and board members and then decided which organizations are having the greatest impact.  Eventually, they will deliver checks to those charities that are doing the best job in the community. 


Spearheaded by Kerrie Bellisario, Academy for Design Teacher and Christine Hietanen, English Teacher, both at Morris County School of Technology and Yale Levey, the Main Street Philanthropy ambassador and co-creator of the organization, this program launched as part of a cutting-edge new program spreading throughout the country.


“Main Street Philanthropy gives our students an authentic learning opportunity to practice and hone 21st century skills–communication, collaboration, and critical thinking–while exploring real-world situations, said Christine Hietanen. 


“When the students began working on the Main Street Philanthropy project, they came to life, realizing that with the tools and training in this program, they could bring their collective desires to make a difference in their communities a reality. This program is the spring board students need as they discover and explore their own sense of agency,” said Kerrie Bellisario. 


Soon to be graduates of the program have noted its impact in their lives, stating that “In order to address any issue, having multiple perspectives encourages new and innovative solutions.”- Alex P. 


“I always thought that being a philanthropist meant you were rich and donated some money to help people in need. Now I know that anyone can be a philanthropist.” -Nicole A. 

When asked about this innovative program, Yale Levey said, “I’m so excited about our program that launched at Morris County School of Technology.  The purpose of Main Street Philanthropy is to transform students from the inside out and society from the bottom up by helping youth, and adults, experience the joy of purposeful giving.  We help address much of what is broken in the world today by providing an antidote for selfish me-first thinking. Main Street Philanthropy addresses so many of the concerns that parents like me worry about these days, such as how to instill critical life skills and values that will help my children find happiness and success for the rest of their lives.”  


Morris County School of Technology students who participated in the program learned valuable life skills in financial literacy, written and oral communication, community awareness, group collaboration and leadership, and gratitude. Additionally, the surrounding communities and generous donors also benefit with increased community awareness, a new generation of philanthropists, and immediate satisfaction with a boost to the community. 


This program results in profound transformation for all involved: students, faculty, schools, charities, donors.  Minds are opened, possibilities are explored, imaginations are ignited, help is given, hearts are touched, and lives are changed – forever. 


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