Foundation to grant $100M to aid NH’s disadvantaged youth

GOFFSTOWN — A massive initiative is underway to distribute $100 million over the next decade toward efforts that will help increase opportunities for disadvantaged young people in New Hampshire.

The ultimate goal of the project, which has been dubbed New Hampshire Tomorrow, is to ensure that every Granite State child can reach their full potential — regardless of their family’s income.

“Right now, only some kids get that chance,” said Richard Ober, president of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the organization fronting the tab for the decade-long undertaking.

On Friday, the NHCF announced its new objective, explaining about $10 million a year for the next 10 years will be distributed through grants and scholarships to numerous organizations committed to helping children achieve greater success.

The $100 million will be withdrawn from the NHCF’s existing $625 million in assets, which have been collected over time from hundreds of donors, according to Ober.

New Hampshire Tomorrow is expected to provide grants to New Hampshire family resource centers, substance use prevention programs for youth, STEM initiatives and organizations such as Southern New Hampshire Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire, Families in Transition – New Horizons, Girls Inc., Families First, Easter Seals, CASA of New Hampshire, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA and more.

Aside from grants and scholarships, New Hampshire Tomorrow will also build and support multi-sector coalitions, and advance sensible public policy to help achieve its goals, said Ober.

Currently, children from lower income families have less access to quality preschools, youth sports organizations, adult mentors and post- secondary education, according to Ober.

The new project is designed to bridge the opportunity gap to help all youth become productive, self sufficient adults who have a good education and are ready to contribute to the state’s economy, he explained.

The New Hampshire Tomorrow Leadership Council consists of dignitaries like former Gov. John Lynch, former Senate president Sylvia Larson, Dyn founder Jeremy Hitchcock, former University of New Hampshire President J. Bonnie Newman and more.

“This is a generational issue,” said Hitchcock, adding there is no other institution in the state that is promoting this type of forward thinking.

Donnalee Lozeau, executive director of Southern New Hampshire Services and the former mayor of Nashua, said that when she was a child, her peers didn’t really know who was poor in the neighborhood.

When Lozeau attended the HeadStart program in Nashua as a child, she said it became clear to her that she could do whatever she wanted in life regardless of the amount on the family paycheck.

This new endeavor is not a quick fix that will help feed someone tomorrow or heat someone’s home this winter, said Lozeau, describing it as a 10-year commitment to provide more opportunities for New Hampshire’s children.

“It is about breaking that cycle that people just don’t know how to break,” she said. “All of our kids have something in them, and the most this group could do is find people and tell a child that they can be all that they can be.”

New Hampshire Tomorrow aims to narrow the opportunity gap with strategic investments in four focus areas: early childhood development, family and youth supports, preventing and treating alcohol and drug use and creating affordable pathways from education to careers.

Investing in New Hampshire’s youth will pave a strong pathway for the future of the state, according to Maureen Beauregard, president of Families in Transition – New Horizons.

“These kids truly are our biggest hope,” she said, adding there are more families in need and more complex issues coming into the spotlight than ever before.

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