NextGen Rochester, a giving circle of young professionals and an initiative of Rochester Area Community Foundation, is awarding $11,000 in grants to five local organizations and programs. Grant amounts range from $1,500 to $2,500 for a variety of programs.

The purpose of NextGen is to create an educated, engaged generation of young professionals committed to improving the greater Rochester community. To do so, NextGen introduces philanthropy to individuals at the beginning or middle of their careers and provides them with opportunities to initiate positive changes in the community by pooling financial contributions and then awarding grants to nonprofit organizations.

Each member makes an annual donation of at least $100 and has the opportunity to participate in the grantmaking process. The dollar-in/dollar-out philosophy of the giving circle means that donations in any one year are available for distribution that year via grants. This round of grants was the first time since NextGen was created in 2009 that all of the money was raised by the 55 members with no additional support from the Community Foundation.

After reviewing 131 initial grant applications, NextGen’s Grants Committee invited 10 nonprofit organizations to present their grant proposals at the group’s annual meeting. The Nov. 8 meeting at Geva Theatre Center’s NextStage, which was open to the public, served as a mini-nonprofit fair, with information tables and one-on-one networking opportunities with nonprofit representatives. The meeting culminated with dues-paying members of NextGen voting on which organizations would receive grants from the group.

The following grants were approved by the NextGen Rochester membership:

  • Boys & Girls Club ($2,500)
    This grant supports an accelerated reading program for club members, ages 6 to 18, with the goal of measurably improving reading levels each year.
  • Center for Teen Empowerment ($2,500)
    Funding will support Teen Empowerment’s youth organizing project that trains teens and employs them, in addition to an annual symposium for youth.
  • Cameron Community Ministries ($2,000)
    In an effort to bring children up to grade level in reading and math, this grant will support afterschool tutoring and provide students with access to the facility’s computer lab.
  • Geva Theatre Center ($2,500)
    PLAY is an interactive arts experience for city of Rochester youth in grades kindergarten through 12. This grant will support the program, which takes a 360-degree look at play production and goes well beyond a viewing experience.
  • Mt. Hope Family Center ($1,500)
    Building Healthy Children is a support service for young women who have become mothers before reaching age 21. Funding will be used to provide baby items, books for children and more.

NextGen Rochester was formed in January 2009 by a group of young professionals who wanted to make giving back a part of their lives through leadership, friendship and philanthropy.

In 2009, 28 members granted a total of $9,700 to six different local nonprofits. In 2010 the membership grew to 60 voting members and the giving circle awarded $13,780 in grants to eight organizations.  Since it was created, NextGen has distributed $34,480 in grants to 19 local nonprofit groups.

For more information on NextGen Rochester, visit www.racf.org/NextGen, become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NextGenROC or contact Saul Maneiro at smaneiro@racf.org or (585) 341-4356.