State College, PA – May 22, 2023 – Sixteen Centre County high school students awarded $6,182 to four local nonprofits as they concluded their participation in Centre PACT (Philanthropic Actions Created by Teens), an annual program facilitated by Centre Foundation. Recipient organizations include ACRES Project, Centre County Youth Service Bureau, Park Forest Preschool, and Tides, Inc.

On Sunday, May 21st, students and their families, nonprofit representatives, community members, and Centre Foundation staff gathered at the Scholar Hotel to announce the grant awards and to celebrate the end of the program year. 

To help kick off the program, State College Area High School senior Natalie Pearson shared the Centre PACT mission and presented an overview of the 2022-23 program year.

State College senior Avery Jones presented JoAnn Vautour, Co-Chair of the Park Forest Preschool Board of Directors and Rocky Landers, Board Member, a $600 grant to expand their Social Justice, Equity & Diversity Services. This program will provide funds and access to transportation and resources to families who might not have reliable access, along with translating classroom materials for students who aren’t native English speakers and purchasing new books that highlight the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Park Forest Preschool is so grateful for all the student’s philanthropic awareness and work,” said Landers. “With this generous grant, we’ll be able to translate our brochures into Spanish and some materials that families need to be exposed to initially.”

“We were all really moved to see how much amazing work they were doing. This proposal was made for Centre PACT, both by fitting our goals and by playing such an important role in education, which means a lot to us, since that’s what brings us together,” said Jones.

State College senior Mia High presented Ty Barrickman, Assistant Director of Residential Services at Centre County Youth Service Bureau, a $888 grant for their Stone Valley High Ropes Course Experience. This project will bring youth that receive Youth Service Bureau assistance together for a team building experience at the ropes course and for a meal at a restaurant afterwards.

“Thank you very much because our families could use this outing. This will be great at Stone Valley for us to use the course,” said Barrickman.

“We really liked this organization, what they stand for, and how they are working with youth in our community. It’s one of our central missions to benefit kids K-12 and teens specifically since we are trying to benefit our peers,” said High.

State College senior Eden Singh presented Julia Neely, Program Manager at ACRES Project, and Rebecca Stroschein, Program Director, a $1,635 grant for their Gardening and Growing program. This program was kickstarted last year with help from funding from the Centre PACT Class of 2022. It will continue to offer young adults the opportunity to participate in a group gardening program aimed at reducing anxiety and depression.

“We are so excited to be able to bring back our Gardening and Growing program this summer. It started last year thanks to Centre PACT and we had so many families want to do it again,” said Stroschein. “We had so many families that, because of numbers, we weren’t able to hold due to capacity. So this summer is going to give us the opportunity to reach those students who often have never had a summer social activity.”

“Centre PACT is choosing to grant to this organization because it provides a space for young people to actively be involved in the community,” said Singh. “It gives them the opportunity to make friends, connect with others, learn and experience new opportunities, and be a part of something bigger.”

State College Area High School junior Lydia Shen presented Jhoselyn Contreras, Volunteer at Tides Inc., a $3,059 grant for grief programming resources for local schools. Their in-school programming includes grief support groups and the distribution of grief carts and bags of hope, which include books and other comfort items.

“I want to thank Centre PACT for the generous donation, I know this will help us expand our school programming,” said Contreras. “This is our second year in schools, and I’ve seen firsthand the impact this program can have on students. Not only do they have to go to school and be students, but they are also dealing with these other things whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a friend, or even a pet.”

“When we first heard about the Tides program many of us were instantly hooked. They are working to expand their programs in local schools, which is something that we as Centre PACT knew we wanted to support,” said Shen. “Grief is something that everybody experiences and can have a particularly lasting influence on younger children. We loved how Tides works to equip young students with valuable coping skills that can help them throughout the rest of their lives.”

This spring, the following student participants are set to graduate: Mia High, Avery Jones, Natalie Pearson, and Eden Singh. They each shared their plans for the future and how Centre PACT has been an important part of their high school career. Centre Foundation commends these students for their dedication to making a difference in the community.

Centre PACT is led by Centre Foundation staffers, Kerry Tolton; Development and Stewardship Director, Rachael Hartman; Community Impact Director, and Emma Neely; Centre PACT Coordinator. 

This year marked Emma Neely’s final year as Centre PACT Coordinator, following her previous roles as a volunteer Collegiate Advisor and as a participant in Centre PACT as a high schooler. She reflected on her four years as a part of this program and recognized this year’s class.

“I can say that without a doubt that [Centre PACT] is the thing that I’m most glad that I started doing back in high school,” said Neely. “Through my role as Coordinator, I got to mentor students, which has been so fulfilling to me. Getting to know the students this year, especially, has been great. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Each year, Centre PACT empowers high school students from across Centre County to discuss issues facing their peers, learn about potential solutions that nonprofits offer, and ultimately fund the programs they think will be most effective. Since 2016, Centre PACT students raised and granted over $45,000 to local nonprofits.

Centre County high school students are invited to apply to join the Centre PACT Class of 2024 during fall recruitment, which will begin in August. To learn more, visit