Student philanthropy group grows in funds

The community has taken notice of the impact a student philanthropy group at Marshalltown High School can have on those in need of funds.

Students Teaching and Empowering Philanthropy, or STEP, has grown in activity and funds in recent years.

The students have $10,814 in grant funds to give out to area agencies and organizations in need this year and will have more than $20,000 next year, thank to money from the disbanding Marshall County Coalition for Youth and from the Community Foundation.

STEP is led by Heidi Pierson of the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation.

“This started relatively small and over the last couple of years has grown in the dollar amounts we are able to grant,” said Daniel Talbert, an MHS senior and three-year member of STEP.

Two other three-year members and MHS seniors are Emma Runquist and Kate Penttila. Runquist is happy that the funds are coming in for their work.

“It’s nice that they trust us that we can allocate the money where it belongs,” Runquist said.

Among the many grants given out by STEP this year are $2,000 each to the Marshalltown Police Department K-9 fund, Mid-Iowa Community Action teen outreach program and to Child Abuse Prevention Services. The students continue to learn more about the needs of the community and not just are in this program to pass along grant funds.

“This year we are trying to do more volunteer work so we are not just giving away money,” Penttila said.

Bettie Bolar of the Community Foundation, said they believe in the building charitable givers and the STEP program is a good way to grow these types of values in young people.