MoonCatcher Project
 

Standing (L-R): Jimmy Bulmer, Patrick Dodson, Pamela Skripak (Executive Director of INLCD), Philip Kane, Aubrey Fitzpatrick, Aimee Cuevas, Somya Singh, Elisa Donato, Madeline Kelly, Rachel Bournique, Megan Trigg. Sitting (L-R): Natalie Donahoe, Ellie von Wellsheim (Founder and Executive Director of The MoonCatcher Project), Ciara Breslin, Dr. Susan Appe.


Giving Back to Those That Give Back

The Student Philanthropy Fund selected The MoonCatcher Project and Youth FX as its inaugural winning nonprofit organizations.

Housed at the University at Albany’s Institute of Nonprofit Leadership and Community Development (INLCD), the newly established Student Philanthropy Fund selected The MoonCatcher Project in Schenectady and Youth FX in Albany as its inaugural winning organizations of allocated funds. The Student Philanthropy Fund is a project of Dr. Susan Appe and launched in Spring 2019 in the PAD 527 Philanthropy and Civil Society graduate course at Rockefeller College.

Throughout the semester, Appe guided the students through the process of researching deserving organizations and choosing the winners. The class compiled a list of organizations, studied them individually by looking at their mission statements, projects, finances, community partnerships, etc., and then narrowed the organizations down based on a set criteria, including worthiness of cause, accountability and integrity, transparency, impact of donation, effectiveness, and diversity. The funds were divided into two categories ⎯ $500 for an organization committed to international work and $1,000 for a local organization providing services and activities to the Capital District community. In the end, the students awarded $500 to The MoonCatcher Project and $1,000 to Youth FX.

The MoonCatcher Project is an international organization based locally in Schenectady, N.Y. Their mission is “to optimize girls’ lives worldwide by removing barriers related to menstruation.” They do this by creating reusable, washable menstrual management kits that include a pad and instructions for distribution in disadvantaged communities worldwide. Additionally, they offer reproductive health and menstrual management classes. In these communities, the taboo topic of menstruation, low income, and lack of access to feminine products results in girls missing school and even dropping out altogether.

“We chose The MoonCatcher Project because we felt as though our donation would have a significant impact in working towards a humanitarian issue occurring internationally at a local level,” said the class’s collective report. “The decision was not easy, and our class put a lot of time and thought into the decision. However, The MoonCatcher Project had an emotional appeal that surpassed the others. The topic of menstruation is one that is often not talked about, even in America, and as a class we saw the need for this support for young girls to help them be successful. We admired the fact that the organization is all volunteer run, and all of the hard work that they put towards their mission.”

The local impact winner, Youth FX, works to empower young people from communities that have been historically underserved by teaching them the technical and creative aspects of digital filmmaking and media production. Their free programming primarily works with people ages 10-24 in the South End, West Hill, and Arbor Hill neighborhoods of Albany to produce documentary films. These film productions focus on collaboration and building leadership skill, while teaching advanced digital media techniques. As a result, their films have been selected for screenings at some of the world’s leading film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival and Woodstock Film Festival.
 
“Youth FX’s record of proven success, strong alumni network, and ability to create social change made them stand out among the rest,” stated the class’s justification. “Providing students with technical skills, developing character and leadership skills, and learning how to share stories are all experiences that Youth FX provides for Albany’s youth. One of the most impressive aspects of this organization is that it is led by staff and volunteer alumni of their programs. Youth FX embodies a local organization that is creating change within their community and we are excited to support their cause.”

The Student Philanthropy Fund’s mission is to contribute to students' preparation as public service professionals, to develop philanthropists with integrity, and to build relationships with and fund nonprofits across UAlbany’s communities. It is currently funded by private donations from generous alumni of Rockefeller College and other local community members. To support the Fund, please consider making a donation here.

The Student Philanthropy Fund will also be integrated into an undergraduate course at Rockefeller College starting this fall. For more information, contact Susan Appe (sappe@albany.edu).