Penguin Nonprofit Group Pays it Forward

By Kierston Richardson
Jambar Contributor

The Student Nonprofit Leadership Organization, or SNLO, at Youngstown State University is  raising money to help local organizations in need through the Pay It Forward Program. 

Trina Benson, Youngstown Promise Neighborhood director, said the SNLO grant helped her organization last spring.

“The SNLO grant assisted us in purchasing more than 100 culturally diverse books and educational resources to address early childhood literacy skills in underperforming communities,” Benson said. 

Jessica Weetman, junior political science major and vice president for SNLO, said the organization decided to raise funds through an apparel sale this fall. 

“We are working with Sherman Creative, and we are doing a pop-up shop for students,” Weetman said. “All of the apparel was designed by students in the organization, and 100% of the proceeds go towards next semester’s grant. We’re selling masks, T-shirts, sweatshirts, crewnecks and hoodies all semester long.”

Weetman said students raised $3,000 last fall for a Pay It Forward grant they award to a local nonprofit organization. Weetman said the students who are part of SNLO benefit from the program as well. 

“We get to create different connections with different nonprofits and SNLO alumni. It helps to build our resume if you want to go into the nonprofit sector,” Weetman said. 

Laura Dewberry, director of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, has been the adviser for SNLO for 12 years. 

“Pay It Forward awards a grant award to a nonprofit organization, and we bring awareness to 10 plus organizations each year,” Dewberry said. “Students help solve organizational challenges and we volunteer at multiple organizations per year.” 

Jenna Binsley, senior marketing major and president of SNLO, said the organization designates different categories for organizations to apply under. Some examples are human trafficking, immigrant refugee support and K-12 education.  

“We go through as a group and read all of the applications. We then select our top five, rate them, then we select our top four,” Binsley said. “We do site visits to the selected four, and then we’ll go back and decide which organization connects with what we’re trying to do.”

She said students can learn more about nonprofit organizations through SNLO and really appreciate them. 

“Each member can have experience where they can say, ‘I can decide this is what my major or minor is going to be.’ There are a lot of inner workings that go into it that people don’t see. It’s good to be able to see how much of an impact a nonprofit organization can have with limited resources,” Binsley said.