Issue #24| February 2020
Happy February!

It was a busy and productive month for Youth Venture , Changemaking and our Portrait of a Graduate work, and we have another exciting month ahead. We hope you'll join us for two upcoming events, our Stakeholders Breakfast on February 27 at MWCC and the 5th annual Spring Showcase on March 19 at Great Wolf Lodge ! All the details are below!

Winchendon Public Schools hosted the Storytelling Session for the Changemaking Cohort at MWCC for their full day of Professional Development. Changemakers learned the importance of crafting their story. They also took part in a "Failure Fair", a fun exercise in practicing and celebrating failure while connecting it to their Changemaking projects. Changemakers also had a busy month at their schools. You'll read about a couple of their projects below.

We are well into activities surrounding the Portrait of a Graduate grant. Yet we are still looking for support from YOU, our readers, whether you are a student, parent, educator, community member, or employer! Please read further for opportunities on how to become involved.

We had our first Teams launch for this school year! An elementary school Team and a middle school Team launched this month. Read more about their exciting plans .

Are you a high school senior involved in Youth Venture? We invite you to apply for the UWYV 2020 Scholarship. Applications are due March 13 and you can find the online application here ! We encourage you to apply today!

Last, a summit hosted by MassHire North Central Workforce Board will be held on Thursday, March 5 from 8:30 to 12 here at Mount Wachusett Community College . This event is geared for youth service providers, employers, educators/counselors, and young adults (if interested) to help all to connect young people to jobs and career-related resources. In addition to an excellent speaker line-up, there will be four breakout sessions on topics addressing mental health, substance use, disabilities resources, and self-care. Maria Milagros is the keynote speaker followed by a panel conversation about youth employment. Free continental breakfast. There will also be a number of youth service provider vendor tables—we would invite you to visit these folks beginning at 8:00am. Please visit

If you haven't liked our Facebook page , please be sure to do that today, here ! We post regularly about all the activities happening with our Venture Teams, as well as updates on what is new and exciting with Youth Venture and Changemaking , and any new activity with Portrait of a Graduate .

As always, we appreciate you and thank you for your continued support!

~the United Way Youth Venture Team!
Spring Showcase
Spring Showcase - - Registration is open!

UWYV Spring Showcase  is happening on  March 19  at  Great Wolf Lodge  in Fitchburg, MA from  5-7pm . More than 50 Venture Teams will set up and share with you their ideas and mission.

This is a  unique event that presents the wide-ranging, inspiring, and innovative social ventures of the engaged public school students in North Central MA . It is an opportunity for parents, teachers, business and community leaders to see how teams of young social entrepreneurs are leveraging their passion and skills to generate solutions for their school’s and community’s challenges. The event will give community members an opportunity to hear from these active Venture Teams and support their efforts, and meet other invested community members.

Please join us for critical conversation about gaps in student readiness for college, career, and community.

United Way Youth Venture Stakeholders Breakfast

Thursday, February 27, 2020 7:45-10:30 a.m.

Who else will be there?
UWYV, Changemaker Communities Partners, Portrait of a Graduate Working Team, and members of our community with a stake in preparing youth for successful futures in North Central Mass.

What can you expect?
The focus of our dialogue will be to understand how we can leverage student- and grassroots-driven initiatives like UWYV and Changemaking as exemplars of how to prepare students and inspire teachers for the 21 st century. With an unparalleled funding opportunity this year from the Barr Foundation Portrait of a Graduate grant initiative, we will answer the question, “why Portrait of a Graduate?” Through the perspectives of three panelists—college, career, and community—we will facilitate a discussion about what it looks like for stakeholders of education in North Central Mass to pull together to ensure our students are prepared to be successful in each of those three areas.

Speakers include Ali Gross, Program Officer, Education, Barr Foundation; Marcia Rosbury-Henne, Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management, MWCC; Kelley French, Deputy Director, MassHire North Central Workforce Board; and MA Senator Stephen M. Brewer, namesake of the Stephen M. Brewer Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement at MWCC.

Hosted at:
Mount Wachusett Community College
North Café, Gardner Campus, 444 Green Street, Gardner, MA 01440

Please RSVP by February 21 to  
or 978-630-9138.
The Homes for Trees Venture Team from Fall Brook Elementary School was the first Youth Venture Team to launch in FY20! These students gathered to bring awareness to caring for our environment by planting trees around their school. Through their research, the 4th and 5th grade students learned that tree roots can filter water of impurities as it enters the ground. They will raise funds by taping their guidance counselor, Mr. Galvin, to a wall with duct tape. They are purchasing three mature trees and planting them in the spring. The panelists awarded the Team $150 in start up seed funding. Congratulations Homes for Trees! And thank you to the special Panelists who gave their time and expertise to this Venture Team! Mark Piermarini , Assistant Director of Leominster DPW; Jeff Sullivan , Principal of Fall Brook Elementary School; Carolyn Streeter , Department of Conservation and Recreation; and Ben Urquhart , VP of sales at NEWW Packaging & Display. Also, thank you to Fall Brook Champion and teacher, Lynn Fiandaca , for supporting these young Changemakers!
Portrait of a Graduate

In order to ensure that the changing needs of our community are met, we must come together to design an effective high school experience. Please join our Portrait of a Graduate efforts in one of the following ways:

  • Attend a listening session
  • Volunteer to be interviewed
  • Join a 60-minute focus group
  • Answer one of our surveys
  • Volunteer to help us connect with other members of the community

If interested, please reach out via email,
Changemaking in Action

Students at Memorial Middle School now have an after school Volleyball Club thanks to a Changemaking Initiative , some 8th grade students and club advisor (and Changemaker), Brittany Morrison . We're not sure anyone could have anticipated the success of the club, especially so early in just the first few weeks. Yet, attendance each week in this Friday afternoon club was in excess of 50 students with one week seeing more than 70 students! Well done Changemakers - Lanah-Lee Clifford, Aubree Namsaly, Alanis Rivera-Colon and Kyra Colon Rodriguez ! Thank you for making a difference! And thank you Ms. Morrison for giving them your support!
On Friday, February 14, Longsjo Middle School Venturers celebrated Valentine’s Day by launching the first middle school Team of the year in Fitchburg. Mei’yah and Sam of Let’s Help Cancer Awareness (LHCA) showed their love for children with cancer and their families by putting together a plan to donate new stuffed animals to temporary residents of Why Me Sherry’s House in Worcester. Sherry’s House provides a welcoming and supportive environment for families dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis. When asked why the girls selected this cause, they each shared about the emotional impact of watching a loved one struggle with cancer. This is a way for them to do something and give back. These newest Venturers very cleverly designed a budget that required no seed funding support. They will host a 50/50 raffle in April and set up a display at the UWYV Spring Showcase in March to raise awareness of cancer. Congratulations Mei’yah and Sam ; Nancy Bakanowski , UWYV Champion and computer literacy/science teacher; and Ashley Erskine , Ally and fifth grade teacher; and special thanks to panelists Ethan Chandler , FHS senior and founder of UWYV Venture Karate for Kids; Tammi Chandler , Longsjo math coach; Kory Eng , president of the United Way of North Central MA; Sarah Lopes , MWCC GEAR UP counselor; and Shigehito Tanaka , Longsjo Middle School principal. 
Changemaking in Action

Dan Koen is a Changemaker and sixth grade geography teacher at Sky View Middle School in Leominster. Inspired by his Changemaking journey, he decided to bring the study of geography alive for his students by connecting their learning to real life. He charged students with researching a migrating bird species and studying their journey. The students found a personal connection to the endangered warblers, who like many families in the region, originate from Brazil and Central/South America. The kids found a connection with the birds who relocate to North Central Mass each year and experience challenges with their new environment. In addition to understanding the geographic terrain the birds traverse, they are doing a hands-on project to help the birds thrive once up north. They are designing and constructing special “legacy boxes” to protect the warblers from predators and protect their young. As the projects became increasingly complex with a fundraising element, Dan welcomed the UWYV staff into his classroom to provide the helpful structure of the UWYV Action Plan and they will be able to apply for seed funding to help the warblers. 
Interested in writing for the official UWYV blog? Our audience wants to hear from YOU!

The Venturer Voice blog seeks students, Champions, Allies and community contributors to write pieces for our official blog!