NJ Civic Info Consortium public info session #2 (15SEPT22)
7:28PM Sep 19, 2022
Is Chris joining us tonight?
Chris is not able to join us tonight, unfortunately. So, welcome. My name is John Ceylon. I'm a board member of and secretary of the board of the Civic information Consortium. We welcome you to our second of our three annual public hearings and introduce my board colleague or board vice chair Teresa Ebert's.
Hi, nice to meet. meet everyone. Thank you for coming. And thank you for the work that you do.
So maybe we tried to run these a little informally, so maybe Leontine. And Julia, you can induce yourselves and as more people come on, they can introduce themselves.
Sure, would you like to go first year? Yep, that's Sorry. Go. Okay.
Hi, everyone. My name is Julia Weiser, I'm the program coordinator of state initiatives here at the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance. And the project that we're working on through the Civic information consortium is community conversations, our COVID-19 storytelling project. So thank you for having me on today. And excited to see you all.
Next time meet you. Good stuff. My name is Liam T Anglin. I'm with beyond expectations. And we are working on a really exciting and fun initiative around journalism and gaming with middle school and high school students. And it's a couple of young adults that are kind of interning with us. So we're really excited about it, and just thankful for the opportunity.
And it's funny Leontine, I was thinking about your project earlier today. We had a board meeting, it was a hybrid board meeting and the what those of us were in person were over at Kane University. Okay, and they actually had, the elevator was acting weirdly, so we ended up stopping to every single floor. Up and down. We were on the top floor of the building, but they actually have in the building an Esports stadium.
It's huge. And I'm going to tell you, we stumbled into this because our young entrepreneurs Academy every year, we focus on a different industry. And that was usually around STEM and technology and media before you know pre COVID. And how even landed in this I was really concerned about our the mental capacity of our students during the pandemic and reached out and was like, you guys, okay, like, how are you doing? And a couple of them just mentioned that they were playing video games with friends and others, many of them are from other countries as a way to kind of get through and kind of maintain their mental stability and just have a little bit of fun while they will home bored. And it just kind of hit us like video games eSports. Let's look at this industry. Otherwise, I'm calm, she would probably never would have paid it. Any mind. And it's just been such a pleasant surprise of how huge the eSports industry is. But how can we tie it to what we were doing not just jumping because it was a shiny new toy. But over the last couple of years, colleges are starting to offer it as a major, there's opportunities for young people to monetize. I mean, it's just who knew? And you know, people are like, turn those games off or like No, keep them on keep them on, it's a different track for them that we never really thought about. I don't know if maybe you guys do but I certainly we did not know about it before. So
incredible to hear. And, you know, so that level of connections, I think that you know, just correct having teared up here and the community that's built. It's amazing to me
that you just hit the nail on the head Julia. It's the community like once we posted and shared on LinkedIn what we were doing and we put together some videos this, the doors just opened in terms of the doors of entry indices, whatnot, the students don't play the game. They're organizing it. So they're like the business people behind it. And you know, there's coding this graphic design, there's marketing, there's sponsorships, there's, there's so many doors of entry into the eSports business beyond just playing sports that we've gotten really and then there's merchandising, that's kind of new that we're doing this year, we're creating all our own line of merch, so that the students are figuring out another way to generate revenue. Plus us we're figuring out a new way to generate revenue always trying to get creative, like how do we how do we keep finding ways to fund what we do? And so this line of merchandise that they are designing has just opened more doors you're 100% right, this whole community of people that are out there that promised we didn't know existed? That's huge.
Yeah, I know a friend of mine, he was appointed as like thinking his step son was playing too many video games. And then he starts looking and saying, wait a second. Like, there's like a million career paths. million that's that come from like, just just what he's doing.
Yeah. Yeah, who knew I, I'm telling you I just I, you know, we all knew we were playing their kids play games, but never really took the industry seriously. And I just think in the last couple of years, it's, I think people are just seeing it.
Right? Yeah, no, it's definitely yeah, it's definitely exploded. I remember reading years ago, there was a pretty well renowned neurosurgeon. And he said, the way he kept his hands limber, and dexterous was by playing video games, and then he, you know, this was a grown up, man. So I think as you see more and more people using it for things other than just the fun of it, I think it got some legitimacy somewhere along the lines, because I mean, that's the one that I remember the most. But I do remember reading other articles where the people were using it, you know, not just as escapism, but they actually found that it helped with, you know, hand eye coordination with children with special needs. And yeah, just all sorts of great things that that can come from something that in the beginning kind of looked like a colossal waste of time to most people
totally agree. And even from us from our, just our design perspective, we're getting ready to just revamp our website. And we're just from a business perspective, Game of fIying, some of the things that we've done because we, you know, some of the stuff can get kind of dull and too much text on the website. So we're just rethinking everything. And it's okay to have some fun, I'm going to tell you, most of the time, the work that we do is great, but it wasn't always fun. Air quotes, but this process was really fun for us to the old heads like we were having more fun than we've probably had, you know, and now just looking at gamification, from a business strategy perspective for just like nonprofits. How can we make what we do more engaging and more fun for us and the people that we serve, in a brings families together, that's a whole nother thing that we hadn't thought about. So.
And, you know, I can tell you, I live down in Washington, I went to occasionally there's this international innovation, ecosystem economy competition, that culminates in like the World Finals are in Washington every late spring. And they've got some really, you know, the, these people come in with these really innovative things, projects and stuff like that. And but you had several of them say is that some of their what got them you, they present them, and they maybe talk or they, and some of them are saying it may have been from gaming was sort of that impetus that got them thinking about these other ideas and projects, and like everything else, and it was just interesting to see just the connection they were making of just gaming as a teenager or whatever. And now they're, like, in a completely new area of like, the innovation economy and competing on the world stage at Ford's Theater.
Yeah, I mean, we're always thinking anybody in the nonprofit space? I'm sure, Joe, you will agree. We're always thinking how do we build community and keep people wanting to come back and not making it mandatory, but they want to come right to partake in some of the things that we're doing. But it's like, let's meet them where they are. These young people have their whole language, they're on all different platforms. And guess what we did, we stopped doing stuff as much on Zoom. And, you know, we think we have a discord account on Twitch. But that was two years ago, I've heard of it, but we never utilized it from an organizational standpoint, just because that's where they hang out.
Just through your work. It just sounds like there's so many new doors to engagement that are just being opened, and then it's the buy in to because it really, like you said meeting people where they're at. And just to speak from our experience and and you know, hearing you it brings back a lot of the storytelling that we heard from our original project right when quarantine was happening, and people physically couldn't be together that virtual space was so, so important, right? And not only zoom but, you know, ways that you can still engage with with family and friends. And I'm actually thinking of one young person that submitted a project and they filmed themselves playing a video game while they were talking about their pandemic experience. And just I think it was like Roblox or something. And so that just really sticks in In my mind, and just you know, had that not been the case, would we have heard that story, you know that that is so important to to hear.
I agree, I don't know with without the pandemic, I don't know if we would have looked at it this way to be honest with you, I don't know if we would have paid attention, I was talking, we'd be honest dictation to it at all, I don't think it's an industry would have really thought too much about but being at home for that amount of time. You know, everybody all of a sudden was doing what we're doing right now. Right. And so now we're pitching in a whole different way. And I actually love it. Because before, we used to have to worry about logistics of getting students to a physical location, and all of the challenges that come with that. And that's one of the advantages of going virtual, all we had to do, even if they don't have computers, which we were able to provide with the grant. Thankfully, they have their phones. So they still could apart, you know, participated not in the same way. But so virtual, the pandemic, at first felt like it was going to just take us out, I was like, how are we going to keep doing what we do with this pandemic, and then all of a sudden, it just kind of changed. For lack of a better term, it changed the game for how we were approaching our work. And here we are, in the second year, we're like, you know what, let's stay here, because there's VR in this era, like there's more to come. So yeah, we're just excited about it. Yeah,
such incredible work that you're doing. Thanks so much for sharing that rings. So true from the nonprofit perspective, and are wise, I just think of are wise. And, you know, they're always looking to innovate beyond the swim and gym, traditional sense of what you think of when you think of the YMCA. And so many have just opened incredible steam programs and eSports programs really digging into that. So that's so incredible. Can you actually share your website link in the chat? I'd love to check it out. Probably on the list of civic and I could check there too.
And Julia? Was the project he was working on going?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So we started to kick things off. Now, with our storytelling for phase two, we're looking to kind of gather stories through the end of December this year. And one of the big themes that really stuck out in the first phase was that we needed more community understanding and engagement, and voices around the topic of COVID-19 vaccination, and how to communicate about that, and what resources and materials are provided. So you know, we're really excited, it's hard to say, right, until we start gathering these important stories on the ground, what the findings will really look like, and what people will share. But I think that's the the most exciting part of the project is to just do that storytelling and, and connect. So we're excited, we've kicked off our website now, things are things are on the roll, they're happening maybe a little too quickly. But it's finally happening, like a lot at once, you know, but it's just all exciting work, and to have the opportunity to really continue this work is so important. And something I was thinking about to and from that communications engagement perspective is, is sharing your right, sharing the voices and sharing the findings in the future, we do so much work around the actual, you know, places to document this and keeping it as part of the historical record. And then it comes to, you know, using social social media, for example, to really create that resonating content with with, you know, who might engage. That's where we kind of get stuck and trying to see how can we really honor and, and share these important stories? So that's something I mean, you know, just throwing that out thinking, thinking through that. But we can talk about that we actually expertise. Yeah, yeah,
let's talk about it offline, and just figure that out. Because I think that's something we kind of kind of know how to do. Tell me about the stories who's providing the stories, students, parents and students?
Great question. Yeah. So we're working with some of our community partners from across the state, that have really, you know, been pillars and the community have provided support throughout the pandemic, and we're really in the space. And it was so important for us to really hear the youth perspective, as well as parents and caregivers, right, we know that our young people across the state are now eligible for the vaccine. And we had we had some of those perspectives in the first round of storytelling, but now it's exciting to have the chance to dig deeper and really uplift those experiences. But you know, we're also looking at communities who have been left out of the public health conversation and often ignored or excluded in these spaces. So it's very important for us to be intentional with that approach. When we're doing storytelling and who we're opening right the spot to and of course, everyone is invited to share everyone's story is important, but you know, we really keeping the that focus as well, but yeah, just it's a very community know each approach is kind of different, right? Someone might want to do a one on one interview or a short kind of group dialogue or even share a piece of art. So that that's part of the, you know, exciting nature of the of the various kinds of storytelling. So it's exciting to think about what what we might get
when they share their stories. What do you do with them? Are they on your website? Like, where? Where are they shared?
Yes. So that's something that we're still figuring out for phase two. But for phase one, we actually had the opportunity to work with the New Jersey State Library to create a digital collection that will house the stories for all eternity for participants, you know, who, who consented to share their story publicly. But really, what we what we did was do an analysis of the stories to kind of pull, what are the common themes that people were sharing any kind of disparities or challenges that could inform some actionable you know, changes moving forward, what kind of programming could really meet the needs and kind of fill in any gaps and services that we're seeing throughout the pandemic? So we've been working with the Department of Health through their healthy New Jersey 2030 initiative, to kind of put those those actions into practice through our 10 year State Health Improvement Plan. So there's a lot of different pieces. So we share the stories on our website. And we've created a few theme based animations as well. So I will stop rambling about it. And I post that link, and I can talk forever about it.
Rambling well, not to me,
I love. We love hearing like what's going on? What's going on and on the ground? You know, because we both through Santa Rosa, besides being on the board, we're also on the grants committee. So we do these applications, read them. But you know, it's nice seeing them come out, you know, you see more than just, you're actually seeing hearing about it, seeing what's coming out of it not just reading a bunch of words on a piece of paper after a while. So it's not. That's for us.
Now, that's, yeah, it's excellent. Thank you, Julia. Because you, you and you answered the question that I was going to ask about who you shared the findings with. So I think that's so great that you're working with, you know, the Department of Health so that they know going forward. They have some some data that they can pull from to try to address anything that comes down down the line. And at this point, we might as well figure out something's going to come down. Did that?
Yeah, exactly. In emergencies, yes. You know, what can be applied? Moving forward is really the question and how do we really learn and make sure that that we're uplifting our residents, and we're when we're learning that we're making sure that New Jerseyans are the ones who are developing these programs, and deciding what to do and what those needs are. So thank you, thank you all so much, you know, just for listening to me ramble, I did post the link in the chat and you're still adding to the website. Again, it's still under, you know, under construction for phase two, what that will look like, but um, yeah, just so many rich, and incredible and important stories, talk about them all day, I won't. But the link to our library collection is there as well. And it was really our intention that, you know, these stories be made accessible to the public, and maybe for future research, or for sharing and reflection. But there's so many of them. And that's, that's that communication piece that, you know, I would be so willing to, you know, take any kind of advice or recommendations about and definitely connect offline.
Oh, awesome. I'm looking forward to it, I can't wait to actually, like, watch them. Because this is like, what we do this is, this is why we do this, you know, this is actually it's not about us, it's like we're the vehicle right? To do this kind of work, and to kind of get the voice for what people are going through, and then find ways to kind of, you know, identify resources so that we can keep doing it. It's good that we get to meet each other, how else we might not have crossed paths?
I'm so glad we did. You're having
this call. Actually, that brings up something that took place at another one. So you've kind of already done just by virtue of talking to you. But in terms of the process that we do, you know, going forward? Would it be helpful, um, if we had a mechanism to correct to connect additional grantees so that you could share your experiences and your ideas? I think so.
I think so too. Yeah. It's always so helpful to hear you know, what other people are doing and you know, find those places where we could collaborate right? Where we are aligning and and here's just the innovation right? What beyond expectations is doing like this is so so monumental, I think and just touching, touching point and what people are really interested in our young people are really interested in people of all ages, I play video games.
You know, I definitely think there's value in it, because some of us have been around longer than others. And we may have already, you know, been through them hitting walls virtually, like, we may have already gone through some of the things that they are starting to go through, and or just sharing information and resources and finding opportunities. We're big on collaboration, there's no need to fly solo, it's too hard, in my opinion, you know, and you don't really have to, and we might be able to serve each other's populations, you know, without having a conversation. We don't know, we see it in the, you know, we get to read oh, these organizations got grants also. But it's nice for us to be able to do what we're doing now. I think, if you know, people are willing to do it, I would think most people wouldn't be. You know?
Why can't tell you I don't know if you you've ever those things we asked you to fill out at the end of the first grant? Yeah. One of the that did come up is a few things people were asking, like, with love, like, either in person or virtual ways, like to connect, like, you know, if you can sort of like the consortium and sort of be a convener in that regard. Yeah. Just so I think people were asking for both since obviously, some people are spread out. Over the all over the state.
Right. Yeah. Virtual is always full. So especially schedules and trying to get on the gas and tolls and all that.
And sometimes easier to maybe do some of it virtually.
Yeah. Just for ease, just because I could be on the road in the car. But I still could have just dialed into this just to participate.
Actually the LED to hearing the other day. Someone did dial in from their daughter's
counselor. Your cheerleading or you're right. Cheerleader. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's
the power of this part. I'm 100%. Virtual, we just, it's just so much easier for from every perspective. But I'm not surprised people ask for that. That makes sense.
Every now and that it's nice to connect in person, but definitely the majority. It's so easy just to connect virtually, and just have these conversations that maybe we normally wouldn't write if I'm sitting here and I live in Middlesex County. But right if I'm, you know, here, and maybe there's someone in Warren County or someone in Salem that I can connect with without driving two hours. It's amazing.
Yeah, just so we can all get together. And then we could maybe have who? Oh, let's talk, Julie, you know, let's talk next Tuesday for you know what I mean, we can have our own sidebar things that branch off from that. But I would think anyone that was a grantee would be happy to share our own information, knowledge, experiences, whatever. I don't see why we wouldn't want to do that.
Okay, and just in terms of the the process itself, the grant application and working with Well, you're a nonprofit already. So you didn't have you didn't have you don't have a fiscal sponsor? Do you? Leontine. Because, right, but just in terms of the application process and things because, yeah, we're still a fairly new organization. So we're learning as we go along. And we're, you know, we've there are a few things that we've, you know, tried to tweak and we try to keep the application as minimalistic as possible, but but we do realize that there are a couple of, you know, simple questions that we will probably have to add this time, but, you know, they will not require a dissertation, as many as we don't want to be that kind of grant application. So, you know, if you could just share your thoughts on, you know, what your experience has been with, you know, the application and the timeframe and all of that.
You want me to go for it? I'm happy to if you'd like, yeah,
we've been doing this a long time. And so the process, and we went through both, we went through the initial one and then the second one, I appreciated both of them for a couple of reasons, because it just cut to the chase and asked the questions that I felt like just needed to be asked sometimes the questions is just the proposal process. Sometimes it's cumbersome for no reason. It just it just doesn't have to be Oh, Um, and what I appreciated about this one, not just the application process, but even the turnaround time compared to other processes was so much more streamlined. Because I can tell you, you know, we've been doing this a long time, there are times you can apply in January, you may not hear back until April, you may not get a check until June, or July, and then you start working in September, ridiculous, like, but that's just kind of the way that it's been. And sometimes the process just hasn't evolved with where the world is evolving. And so you kind of get caught up in that process. So I can say that the initial process was just straightforward. It just was what it was, here's the information, here's the budget, this is what we want to do. And then the second round, where we had an opportunity to have interviews, that was fantastic, because sometimes you can talk through things, if not on paper, you know, you interpret it on paper, and how I can deliver it to different things. And I can answer questions that, you know, sometimes it doesn't lend itself in just paragraph format. So I think both of the processes were barely just streamlined. It just, that's an application process. In my opinion, that's what it should look like. It doesn't have to be so much more than that. I just, you know, 10 years ago, maybe not now. I just don't think it does.
It's funny you say that. The quick turnaround time, I think, for all of us on the grants committee, with all the reading and endless committee meetings, it's almost seems like, is not a quick turnaround time. But you know what, yeah, like we act questions or anything, it's more because we've discovered, okay, we're, there's some questions that we have, right? That's like, Okay, we didn't think to ask this adding something. It's not to burden an applicant. It's more like, we just want to clarify something that some people gave us some others. DD? And then we just want to make sure we have,
yeah, you were expanding on I've been on both sides. So I was there was times I've reviewed application, I know both sides of it. So it does feel like it's taking forever. But that's because the vetting process should take some time. It doesn't have to be exorbitant. Once you do that, it shouldn't take six months, between when we applied to when the funds are in the account. And just, you know, it just that's the way it used, it's probably still is for other funders that we just stopped. Just we can go raise our own money. It just I'm just being honest. It's just and it's done with the amounts were so small, like you're going for five, six months before you seen the checklist for $5,000. Or maybe 2500. You know, and just right, Julia? Just
yeah. totally in agreement. Yeah.
We clear like early on, like even before we awarded the grant. And then when we said we awarded the grant, like just the information we needed before we can release the funds. Say that we're clear on like, just the information we needed from you, either before you applied or before we after you got the grant before we could send you the like just the information we needed from you. Yeah.
That's so true. It's very straightforward. Yeah, absolutely. And also, I, I think he said something earlier, too, that really resonated with me, it was was being in touch with with where the grantees are. And, you know, it varies like not asking more questions. And then you need to ask and making the process so flexible and adaptable. I think, you know, finding interest in so many different projects as well. Was was something really helpful. And just that quick turnaround time. It does, it does seem very quick and response and prompt. So that was very helpful, especially for us. And and during that
process. We try to win if we and I will say I always say this to a lot of people is if for some reason, we're not responsive, just email us again, because right now we're an all volunteer organization. So if it's, if it happens, it's usually just a nature of that, that we're still sort of working through, like all of that and the growing pains because I, I compare it to where, you know, we're building the, we're building the 747 while we're flying it at 30,000 feet, my favorite
phrase building it as you go.
So it's sort of like if anything, it does it's not intentional. It's just
happens. Yeah, I can definitely say there were a couple of times that I was confused about a couple of things and I would just shoot a quick email. Now I just wait for a response from Stephanie. And it was coming. So that just that ability that doesn't even exist, honestly, right, Julie wants to get a grant from some other organizations. You don't hear back from them. You don't have the ability to go back and say, Oh, by the way, it's just okay. Your reports do. It's very mechanical. Here. It's not this. What do you think about this? And I think
there's that real technical assistance aspect that is so so helpful. Yeah. Working together? Yes.
Totally. Totally. You know, I think it was back in August, you sent out a quick little survey, what do you guys think about this? You know, what would be helpful? You have anything because you're building it from your I know, it's ground up, but you're asking us it's participatory planning, right? So it's not just Oh, you guys are in a meeting, having, you know, coming up with ideas on a whiteboard, and not asking the very people that are doing this work. So when those kinds of things come out, to me, it's a great opportunity to share.
So we want to get we want to get all the stakeholders involved, then create this community and sustain this community type deal, because, you know, we, you know, yeah, we can all sit in, you know, what conference and account we're on a conference table, but we're not gonna, you know, I'm more excited, like when the applications came, especially the second round, like not even just the first time that the second round came in. And the just the innovative ideas that were sitting there, and it was like, obviously, we you know, going into a week, I know, we all know, we're limited by how many grants we can give out. So we know not everything's in it, but just seeing the sheer amount of innovation, creativity imagination that exists. It's like, yeah, that just really is like, exciting.
I don't know about Julia. But it was exciting that there was an opportunity for someone that appreciated innovation. That's not even usually on the table. That usually, you know, same ol, same ol, same ol you've been doing it, you're going to do it again next year. Okay, great. And if it's too outside the box, then you're probably not gonna get approved. Because it's just it falls outside of the realm of what traditional funding usually has looked like. That's what that's been my experience. Very few have asked for anything innovative. I don't know about you, Juliet. But
so lately, I think, you know, it's navigating, right? Like, how much out of the box thinking is somebody really willing to write and, you know, sometimes the approach is throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what 60s and other phrase that we love over here, but I really think that that kind of flexibility and almost like a trust, I think, and the process is has been really helpful for us and supported that innovation, right. We're connecting and our project, at least, public health and, and storytelling and art. And that's something in itself, right, that isn't shined on enough. Just has been done. But you know, it needs to continue, especially when we talk about information and how we share. So I think that that really, that really rings true.
Yeah, that was exciting for us when I saw the, the application. And I remember mentioning it to a couple of people. And I was like, doing it for fun gaming. You know, and I was like, Well, you know, what, we're gonna ask anyway. But if we can tie it in such a way that it's really something that makes sense. Why not? They might never know, you know, so sometimes you just kind of have to block out what it's always been. And this opportunity came up and was like, if they get this, then this is exciting, then we can figure out how can we sustain this because young people will love not just young people organizations across the board to figure out how to integrate this into what we do. Right, this programming, how do we change what we've been doing for the last 1015 20 years? Upgraded a little bit? Right?
Yeah, no, I think that's so important. That you think that way because we've learned I mean, the pandemic has taught us that you have to be ready to adjust on the fly. You absolutely have to so I mean, as much as I love baking, the cookie cutter approach just is not applicable a lot of the times anymore the world is changing for better for worse, like it or not, the world is changing rapidly. So if you don't flex with that. I don't know what you think is going to happen. And so yeah, I agree with John, that it's just so great to see. Well, on the one hand, it's great to see so many exciting projects. But you know, to his point, because we have a limited number of grants to give out, it's, it's frustrating, because we can't always support some projects that we would really like to if we're put in a position of having to make some tough calls. Because there is so much innovation out there.
Is that something that you've Oh, I'm sorry, go ahead. No, go ahead. No, I was just, that's something I know, you know, since it's a newer process, too, is that something that you've had to navigate kind of adjusting any kind of criteria when putting together the applications? And what you're expecting as well? Or is that something that's kind of organically?
No, it's not so much that I mean, you again, a little bit of a learning process, you know, our, our issue is that, you know, because we are funded by the state, we have always have to think of geographic cut of coverage, and, you know, so many other things that we, we can't have the team projects come out of Newark, you know, it just, even though we may get 15, great projects out of Newark, we just can't do it. So, you know, those are some of the things that we have to navigate. But that's, that's kind of what we signed up for. And, you know, that's why we get the big bucks. Oh, wait, no, we don't know, actually, let me take that back. Actually, we do. We don't get the dollars, but the work that you guys do. That's everything, that seeing seeing the projects come to life and shine that is more than Warren Buffett's bank account.
I totally agree. You know, that when I spoke, I was not over exaggerating. When I say when the pandemic hit us. We were just like, what are we going to do? Like how, you know, we can't get into the television studios with our students? Who how, what are we going to do, like, legit physically, you know, they cow long, and they're going to have to go without any programs. How are they? Are they okay, mentally, like what's going on with them right now. And, you know, to get a yes, for this project, to give us the ability to do this virtually. That was everything. I'm not being overly dramatic about it, those young people were just like, mentally drained, they were dying. They were so bored. You know, they just, you know, being at home. And a lot of our students. Again, they come from different countries, so that when they had to be home school, their parents don't speak English a lot of times. So they were struggling. And this was something that we could do that just lifted everybody right out of it, you know, and just, we all look forward to just getting on the calls together, just little things of okay, at least at the end of the week, we're going to have fun, we're going to see each other we're going to talk to Joe, we're going to say what do we think we should do? And you know, there was some interaction that if that program hadn't gotten funded, I honestly don't know what, I don't know what we were gonna do, honestly. So,
and lean teen, I know, I'm not saying you know, a lot of grantees learned, you know, we're very, very good at pivoting as things were thrown at them, especially during the pandemic, but I know you did a amazing job. On expectations and how many times you had to pivot and we did adjust.
Yeah, it was, um, you know, you just do what you do. You know, I
think all nonprofits, especially small ones, like ours, like grassroots organizations, were just accustomed to how are we going to survive? Like, we can't, we can't not do it. I know, it's a double negative. But how do we do it without funding? That's the thing, there's all these great ideas that probably a sitting on all of our shelves, that a lot of us just probably always had to figure out? What how are we going to fit? How are we gonna pay for it? You know, how are we going to make sure students have computers to even participate in all this virtual stuff, and we had enough money, that here's a computer, here's a chair that's going to be comfortable, here's all the things. So now, take that off the table. You know, you don't have to say no, I can't participate because I don't have the equipment. You know, so it was not just the ability to fund it, but have enough money so that kids could participate to it. That was everything. If it was, you know, $2,500 grant, we would have been able to do something but not we wouldn't been able to do that. We would have had to figure something else out. So it was substantive enough that we could really really, you know, pivot was the right word. It's still pivoting, but it's fine. It's great.
Julie, I had a question for you. So We got some extra money from the States. And we gave some bump up ramps and some other new grants to people who were on the cusp of the second round. Lee anti lien team just gave me to give her notification, we gave her a bump bump on her second Round grant. What we wanted to ask you, what I wanted to ask you is we want to, we wanted to give some grants for mental health related projects and civic information related projects. Now I know the y runs the Model UN and model Youth and Government programs. In purposes of disclosure, I actually participated in both when I was in high school. Oh, that's wonderful. And so the question I had is, and we these are, we're just doing these are it's smaller amount of applicants, we're doing an invite only are you the best contact if they were interested in applying, send the stuff to or who would be the best contact?
Sure, you can definitely reach out to me and I can put you in a contact either with our director of strategic partnerships and engagement, she might be the best. But yeah, please feel free to send me any information. Because what we're a small team, you know what we'll always talk and collaborate on the different ideas. But yeah, I think our CEO, Darren Anderson works most closely, I think, with the Youth in Government and Model UN. And so that that sounds so exciting. Thank you for thinking of us
as well, no problems. I know, obviously, in general, they're both very civic engagement. And I know you also both both have a press corps component of the on the ground project. So I'm really, you know, as we think of both because I know, they're both very popular and well attended, and very good civic engagement experiences for kids, for students. So
yeah, absolutely. And I think you know, that storytelling component, which I always talk about, but it was such a big part of and we did storytelling recently with the with kind of a World Cafe forum, but some of our Model UN participants as well. So just so yeah, please feel free some send that information my way. And I'll definitely get get connected with the with the right person on the team. But yeah, we all love that work. And we're all very involved. And that's so exciting to see another model UN. I didn't get to do it through the why but I did it through high school.
Dubai was the experience was all through rather than a wide Model UN model. You think governments when I'm very fond memories of running around Trenton in the state house, and running? I'm the only person who's because I actually did. As I was also involved in in eighth grade. I'm the only person who can say I've been to hurt who's been to Hershey, Pennsylvania, I've only been to the Hershey lodge convention. So ah, there it is. Yeah. I've never been to anything else in Hershey, Pennsylvania, except the Hershey law, but then you spend the entire time the weekend in that building. Just you can drop me in that in that hotel, and I could find my way around till this day.
I love it. Oh, thank you. And such an important experience too. And I'm so glad you know that I think things are reopening now where you can kind of come out and and do that know if we did anything virtual last last two years now. Wow. But yeah, yeah, please, thank you for thinking of us and send it our way.
Can you just put your email in the chat?
Yes, let me do that. And also, I'm just so anyone can please stay connected.
And I can tell you the, you know, obviously, I actually did Model UN in college and I had a cousin who had been involved in it at the high school level. And he did it all for years of college and even he now lives down in Washington and still remains involved with through because he went to college in DC to involved with his college, his Model UN group. So it definitely, you know, people stay involved. It does get people really engaged, but look going forward.
That is so amazing to hear. And that's the true impact that we hope, at least you know, we try to call myself like a white baby because I grew up with the Y luckily and have my first job you know, everything was like a lifeguard swim instructor and always always working with the why and I love it so much. So please, yeah, please do.
That was so cool to hear because, you know, people, you know, we're adults, but we still remember the programs that we participated in at a younger age. Like it doesn't leave them. It doesn't leave us it doesn't leave young people it just this exposure to something different. It's long lasting They're like, this is not just one off stuff like they're they will remember or they'll share stories and you're just like you didn't realize the impact of just participating in a program, or the doors that opened or the way their minds open, like, oh, I can do this. I don't just have to do this, this and this in life. Like there's all these other things. I'm looking much older we are, we still remember the impact of these programs. Awesome.
Yeah, I can tell you, I was I was, you know, in past job, I was the editor of Westville patch. And there's a Y in downtown Westfield. And it is a huge part of the community, not not just as a gym or fitness center, or like a meeting space for the Rotary Club. But, you know, all the different programs that they do so many people in town, and so many youth in town, are engaged and do something I would say there's not a youth in Westfield that doesn't have some isn't touched by the Y at some point in their life you know, and I you know, I grew up in Cranford, we don't have a Y in Cranford. But we have, obviously Westfields our nearest one. But I'm touched by that one. And even by the summit, why? When I went to day camp we use there. The day camp I went to when someone didn't have a pool there, but we use the pool of why. So it's like, you're just so it touches so many people.
And what we do here is, yeah, it's just like that connection. And you know, what we do in state initiatives, and even through the alliance as a whole, as you know, not only keep it to our wives, but how do we align what our eyes are doing with other community partners that have been in the work and been in the space for for a long time, and, you know, engage those efforts and kind of, you know, work together. So that's all we like to do. Yeah, I know, I'm getting all excited.
I really am. Because, you know, when you, when we collaborate in joint efforts, it just kind of explodes what the young people were already doing. And now we just kind of expose a new group that we may not have ever crossed paths with, especially if we're doing things virtually, like there's no barrier. Now, if it's virtual, all we have to do is say, Okay, let's plan this, your students show up and we show up and boom, it's done. You know, I just get excited about, you know, new partnerships, new collaborations, you know, no one should be, in my opinion, trying to do this stuff alone, you just, you just don't need to write, there's just so many things, I can get exposed to new things. And we can share ideas as from an organizational standpoint, right? It's just, it's a win win across the board,
right? How do we connect and convenient to keep connecting and convenient is just and working together. So I appreciate that so much. And then we get to set examples,
you know, for other organizations that have been flying solo, just because and it's not even always their fault. Again, it goes back to what the funding process used to look like where they were all fighting for the same dollars. So collaboration didn't make a whole lot of sense. If you're all fighting for $5,000.20 organizations going for it. It kind of didn't lend itself to that we never really bought into that stuff. But it's good for people to see oh, the why. And be honest with teachers partner together. That's awesome. How'd that work? Maybe we should think about doing it. He kind of lead by example. You know what I mean? When you do things like this stuff. I'm preaching to the choir.
I can't hear it enough, though. That is exactly. I can't make better and feel all of that.
Good, good. Good.
So anyone else have any questions or comments? We only have a few more minutes left.
So Did anything come out of the survey that you asked us about? About a month or so ago and
we haven't reviewing it yet. We still have started reviewing those. It's just we've had a few other things that got thrown our way. So we are starting to review those but we definitely it's definitely very good inputs. Because I know the ones that I've you know, some of them I've only scalpers I've only skimmed it definitely has been a good input because it's definitely good to see you know, there were a lot of common themes that started coming across in terms of in particular convenings to get people to talk in Collaborate Look at other projects or meet each other or whatever. So definitely, you're starting to see your is. So it is definitely seen a lot of that. So we are using that because I think, you know, I think one thing we keep saying is we're startup. And I think it's good for us to always think as a startup. Because if you're thinking as a startup, you're thinking about how to innovate on our end. And that's what we want to do is we want, you know, being nimble and trying to address key needs, but also adjust to what makes life easier for the grant recipients and the grant applicants. Because we're not, you know, you know, it's funny, we're talking at the board meeting today. And I think one common thread through all of us during the meeting, during one of our discussions today was we don't like bureaucracy. And our chair actually helped run one of the largest bureaucracies in the state. And the theme from from him on down was, we don't like it, and how do we make sure we don't create this bureaucracy? Or to meet, you know, tangle up applicants and recipients? Yeah.
I was just curious, I know, one of the things that we suggested outside of, because I think we were probably one of the people that say convenient also. But just finding opportunities to maybe even I don't know if matches the right term, with other organizations that maybe could be volunteers with us or become ambassadors, you know, those kinds of, you know, maybe be the bridge that brings us with other organizations that might want to learn more about what we do and support us and you know, those kinds of things. So I'll just keep an ear open because we definitely shared some thoughts
around it, too. Thank you. Does anyone else have anything Teresa? Julie, anyone's have anything to say before we end? Thank you
for doing this.
It's so great to connect. And talk and yeah, thank you for taking some time and this evening as well.
No problem. No problem. Totally. Okay. So you know, thank you so much and have a great evening and public hearing.
Can Okay, have a good evening,
chat. Please feel free to reach out anytime. Thank you so much.
I'll get back in touch with you about that either tomorrow or beginning next week.
Fantastic. Thank you so much. Take care, take care.