The Hinsdale-based Community Memorial Foundation is looking for high juniors and seniors who would like to help decide where to direct their charitable donations next year. 

Funded by the sale LaGrange Memorial Hospital to a for-profit company, the Community Memorial Foundation serves the western suburbs. They’re looking for up to 60 high school juniors and seniors from four high schools — Riverside-Brookfield High School, Lyons Township High School, Nazareth Academy and Hinsdale Central High School — to participate in their Young Community Changemakers program, also YC2.

Students in the program will meet for 10 sessions on Sunday afternoons from January until May at the Holiday Inn in Countryside. 

Initially they will learn about philanthropy and grant making and, ultimately, they will decide how to spend some of the foundation’s money. The students will have the opportunity to solicit grant applications from local nonprofits, go on site visits and meet with their staffs. The students will be divided into two cohorts, which will decide how to direct $30,000 of the foundation’s money.

Last year the students awarded grants to combat the effects of poverty on health. They reviewed grant applications from 21 organizations before awarding grants to BEDS Plus ($7,500), Bridge Communities ($10,000), Hope’s Front Door ($5,000) and Housing Forward ($7,500).

Students who participated in the Young Changemakers program last year say it was an interesting and rewarding experience.

“We kind of just talked about what philanthropy looks like, how we can engage in philanthropy and understand how it operates,” said RBHS senior Sam Royer.

Royer said that the experience was empowering.

“You feel like that as an individual you can’t make change, but ultimately there is an opportunity for you to make change,” Royer said. “It really opens your mind to the possibilities of giving and philanthropy and knowing that you’re able to make change in the community.” 

RBHS senior Paulina Carmona said that she, too, learned a lot from the program.

“It really taught me a lot about communication, because we had a lot of discussion about problems in our communities and how to approach to them. It also just taught me a lot about the communities surrounding us and the problems that they face that my community may specifically may not,” Carmona said.

Carmona said she also learned about the professional world and liked being treated as an adult.

Students can download an application for the program from the Community Memorial Foundation’s website, Applications are due by Nov. 23 at 5 p.m.