WAMY wants ‘YO’ vote

Article Published: Jun. 14, 2012 | Modified: Jun. 30, 2012

Want to help a great cause, but lack the cash or the time?

WAMY has a perfect giving opportunity for you.

Avery Youth Opportunities (Avery YO!) is one of many initiatives of the Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey counties community action agency. With one daily click of a button, you can help Avery YO! get a $50,000 grant from Cultivate Wines, a California-based company that is part of the “connected capitalism” movement.

According to their website, the Cultivate Wines leaders recognize that for-profit companies have the power to be a force for good through social responsibility. Cultivate therefore earmarks the first dime of every dollar earned for charitable giving, but puts even the decision of who gets the money into the hands of the public.

Each quarter, Cultivate accepts 30 grant proposals from nonprofits to post on its website. For two months, visitors to the site can vote daily for a project to be funded. At the end of the 60-day period, the top vote-getter wins $50,000 for its project or agency, while the next five most popular nonprofits are awarded $10,000 each.

Avery YO! is participating in the current grant cycle, which began May 1 and concludes June 30. The group is in the running for the top six contenders, but needs help from the community to ensure it wins one of the grants.

YO! is the only public afterschool program in Avery County and serves just less than 200 children each year. The cost to parents for the three-hour enrichment program is $11 per day, but 95 students currently attend at no cost whatsoever. Those who qualify for free school lunches are able to attend YO! without charge and not only receive adult supervision after school, but participate in numerous enrichment activities.

Children in kindergarten through eighth grade who enroll in YO! benefit from a partnership with Appalachian State University’s education department. During the past school year, 68 ASU education students volunteered with YO! to supervise kids and to provide tutoring, with highly effective results.

Eighty-eight percent of middle school teachers and 81 percent of elementary school teachers reported improvement in schoolwork by participating students. Teachers also report improved English and math grades, as well as better classroom behavior from the afterschool students.

Afterschool students also take part in a “Reading Buddies” program with the Avery Senior Center, enjoy field trips, music and arts education, and participate in a health and wellness program that resulted in a collective 3-percent drop in the body mass index of YO! kids.

Any child may enroll in the afterschool program, but WAMY intern Corey Bullock said that YO!

particularly welcomes kids referred by the school system or the court system and also assists kids with low end-of-grade test scores who could benefit from extra academic attention.

Supporters can help Avery YO! win the Cultivate Wines grant by voting once a day through the end of June. Anyone older than 21 with a Facebook account can cast a ballot at http://www.cultivatewines.com/cause/23470.

Avery YO! is made possible through the ongoing support and collaboration of WAMY Community Action Inc., Avery County 4H, Avery County Schools, Avery County and the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.

For more information on Avery YO!, visit http://www.wamycommunityaction.org/programs/avery-yo.

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