Student Engagement

United Way is committed to engaging young people in our community through initiatives designed to help students explore leadership abilities, gain a deeper understanding of community needs, and take an active role in their communities. Through this work, students develop the skills and confidence to create positive change now and in the future.

United Way engages young people through the following programs: 

Middle and High School Students

Youth and Philanthropy - Since 2000, over 200 high school students have awarded over $325,000 in grants to local nonprofits.
Focus on Community Understanding & Service (FOCUS) - Middle school students at rural schools engage in leadership activities and award funds to community organizations. 
Stephen E. Garner Summers of Service – Summer jobs for rising high school seniors at United Way partner organizations provide first-hand experience in the health and human services sector.

College Students

Cornell Student United Way raises funds annually to support wages for UWTC’s Summers of Service program. 

Ithaca College Student United Way is a student-led initiative dedicated to community-wide charitable and volunteer efforts.

In 2014, Tompkins County was the only community nationwide to have two Student United Ways receive awards at the United Way Worldwide Community Leaders Conference.


To learn more about how you can participate in, volunteer for, or support a Student Engagement program, please contact Regan Ralston at