WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Area Youth Volunteer Experience program is currently seeking applicants to join its first Teen Foundation Board.

“We are looking for the next generation of leaders in our community,” Vicki Simpson, assistant program director of WAYVE, said.

The board will be made up of 15 teens who will participate in allocating foundation grants to non-profit agencies that support the community.

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“Teens will be engaged in the grant-review process and will see how their decisions can benefit their neighbors,” Simpson said.

Westfield area candidates must apply to be considered.

“There is a fee to participate. However, we do have a few scholarships for those where the cost may cause a financial hardship,” said WAYVE Program Director Jill Dispenza. “We don’t want anyone to forgo applying because of the cost.”

While the program assumes that most candidates will be from the greater Westfield area, residents of neighboring areas are encouraged to apply.

“We are looking for a passionate and diverse group of students,” said Dispenza.

The Teen Foundation Board will meet five times over a period of six weeks beginning at the end of March and will be mentored by local executives and influencers with philanthropic experience including Tom Beck, executive director of  Jewish Family Service Central NJ; Darielle Walsh, Westfield community leader and Westfield Foundation board member; Janet Sarkos, president of the Westfield Foundation.

“Their knowledge and their communication with the team will be very beneficial. It’s an interactive panel, not just speaking,” Dispenza said.

As members of the board, teens will participate in agency grant request presentations and will award the grants on May 21. At the completion of the six week board membership, teens are encouraged to continue volunteering in the community.

Anyone interested in applying to the program should email WAYVE@jfscentralnj.org. Teens are encouraged to visit the organization’s Facebook and Instagram page and can search the hashtag #ridethewayve to learn more about the program.

The Wayve Teen Philanthropy program is made possible by generous funding from the Westfield Foundation through Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, a non-sectarian social service agency serving Union County.

“We are excited to shape the next generation of passionate givers,” Dispenza said. “Teens are really learning about philanthropy on a small scale. They are giving back to their neighbors.”