A Q&A with Mary Garton, an EPP Class of 2023 Graduate 

EPP Class of 2023 Graduation

The Emerging Philanthropists Program (EPP) seeks to engage Central PA’s emerging business and community leaders with the great possibilities that lie within philanthropic endeavors in our region. EPP provides resources and educational opportunities for those who wish to be actively engaged in philanthropic endeavors. 

In the culminating experience, the class applies their newly learned community and grantmaking skills by awarding a grant to a nonprofit organization in a funding priority chosen by the class after assessing community needs. EPP is a 10-month program beginning in February with graduation in November. 

The Foundation for Enhancing Communities is seeking applicants for the EPP Class of 2024! Visit www.tfec.org/epp to learn more. The deadline to apply is January 12, 2024. 

We interviewed Mary Garton, 4th Grade Teacher at The Harrisburg Academy and EPP 2023 Graduate to share her experience and tell you why you should apply for EPP. 

Can you describe your experience in the Emerging Philanthropists Program?
Being involved in the Emerging Philanthropists program has been an excellent way to learn about the positive impact that community foundations have on their surrounding community. It also was an opportunity to learn from pivotal leaders in a variety of sectors that share a common focus on serving and bettering the community. The insight from these leaders helped our class decide on the current needs our communities are facing, and where gaps in funding and services exist. I was also able to learn a new skill of grant writing, and had an insider’s experience into the grant process, which included developing a grant that focused on a true need in our community, reviewing applications, researching the nonprofit applicants, and collaboratively deciding the best fit on where the grant could be best utilized. 

Why did you apply for EPP?
A good friend, Kimberly Macut, is a recent graduate of the EPP program and had a valuable experience. Also, in my career as an educator, I am always looking for opportunities to get our students actively involved in our community, and I was hopeful that my experience in EPP would introduce me to nonprofits in the area that were new to me that we could partner with on projects.  

What did you learn from EPP?
I learned about the incredible nonprofits in the area who are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to food, housing, healthcare, and education. I also learned about the important role of community foundations to connect donors with organizations that align with their specific reason for giving to meet the true needs of members of our community.  

A bonus was learning from fellow class members about their experiences and perspectives, whether professionally or personally, that added a lovely diversity of thought and experience to this process.  

What was your favorite part of EPP?
One of the highlights of the program for me was the panel discussions where we had the opportunity to learn about various nonprofit organizations and leaders in healthcare and education who shed light on the current needs of their clients/families they serve. It was very helpful for us, as a cohort, in guiding us in choosing the focus area of the grant that we designed. We ultimately all landed on food insecurity as the focus for our grant, and the grant recipient was HANNA’S Pantry, which is an incredible nonprofit serving Susquehanna Township’s families. 

Would you recommend EPP to others?
I would definitely recommend EPP to others, as I think it is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the incredible nonprofits committed to bettering our community.  

This experience also made me more aware of the incredible impact that a grant through a community foundation, like TFEC, has to positively shape the lives of local members of our communities. It also is a fantastic experience to gain a bit of practice with grant writing, as it is a valuable skill that many nonprofit organizations are very dependent on from volunteers, as grants help fund the amount of outreach that organizations can offer. It also provided great exposure to local organizations that would be fantastic boards to serve on, offer options to volunteer, and to include charitable giving considerations. 

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