Each year, more than 600 students from around the Central New York area gather for the CNY Model United Nations (UN) Conference, hosted by the Fayetteville-Manlius (FM) Model UN Club. In addition to their regular Model UN activities, which include learning about diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations, the students and their director, Kate Gross, collect money to donate to a different cause each year. Previous contributions have supported causes that promote global safe water and the advancement of democracy.
This year, the group had already chosen an international charity – Root Capital – to receive contributions when COVID-19 hit. It wasn’t long before Kate got a call from her students.
“They were so acutely aware of the local need in our CNY community,” stated Gross. “The students were adamant that a portion of the money should stay local.”
Kathy Yang, Model UN club president, recommended the COVID-19 Community Support Fund, but it was the decision of the entire team to redirect part of the donation. Kathy, along with Ryan Roos and Jackson Wehrle, the secretary generals of the CNY Model UN Conference, decided that $2,800 would be directed to the local COVID-19 Community Support Fund.
The Central New York Community Foundation, in partnership with United Way of Central New York, Allyn Foundation, The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation, Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County, established the COVID-19 Community Support Fund to support nonprofit organizations working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. To date, the fund has raised over $1.7 million from which vital funding is rapidly deployed to support the greatest needs.
The money raised by the CNY Model UN conference is a thoughtful undertaking by students each year. During the conference they host games such as “Jar Wars” during which they pass jars around to see which delegation can fill up their jar with money the fastest. Combined with the minimal attendance fee of $20 per student, the conference raises a substantial amount of money and then matches the amount out of their FM Model UN account.
“The kids really take this part of the conference seriously,” Gross remarked. “They focus on tangible outcomes. Sustainability isn’t just something to consider in Guatemala and coffee fields halfway around the world. It’s a problem in their own backyard. They experienced a certain humility with this realization.”
The FM Model UN Club and the CNY Model UN Conference are helping to create a new generation of philanthropists.
“For a lot of kids, it starts with stuffing money in a jar, but turns into a lifelong passion for improving society and their own communities,” Gross added.
For more information on the Model UN Club or their area-wide conference, you can email Kate Gross at KGross@fmschools.org.