Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007

Project Change earns major grant from Freeman Foundation

$260,000 awarded to Olney youth organization

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Project Change has received the $260,000 Joshua M. Freeman Tribute Grant awarded by the Carl M. Freeman Foundation.

The announcement was made in front the Freeman family, colleagues and friends at their Brookeville home, Tusculum Farm, on Saturday.

‘‘We are extremely thrilled to win this award,” said Robyn Holstein-Glass, executive director of Project Change. ‘‘It demonstrates the confidence they have in our organization.”

Founded in 1998 by four Sherwood High School students and now a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Project Change is a partnership of high school students and adults committed to improving the community by providing positive opportunities for youth.

‘‘For 10 years, Project Change has done amazing things with virtually no financial resources,” Holstein-Glass said. ‘‘Project Change has grown to its present level of respect and accomplishment through a highly dedicated group of youth and adult volunteers, and this grant represents an amazing opportunity to more fully realize our mission.”

Michelle Freeman, Joshua Freeman’s wife, presented the award to Project Change.

‘‘Josh was the kind of person who believed in others, and he never did anything halfway,” she said. ‘‘I know Josh would love that we have chosen to place our faith in Project Change in a way that will make a big impact on their organization.”

Other Freeman officials echoed that confidence in Project Change.

‘‘We saw this as a pivotal time for Project Change, and just as Josh truly believed in people, we saw this as a perfect opportunity to believe in and support Project Change,” said Jean Shaughnessy Hodges, executive director of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation.

The organization plans to use the award to fund the Joshua M. Freeman Youth Initiative (FYI), which will be a living and sustainable way to carry forth Josh’s vision for a stronger Olney and a model for other communities, organization officials say.

The Freeman Youth Initiative will provide teens in the greater Olney community opportunities for safe activities, appreciation for the advantages available to them, and ‘‘paying it forward” through community service and philanthropy.

‘‘This will put us in a whole new area that we have not been in as an organization,” Holstein-Glass said.

Project Change was selected from nine non-profit organizations that were invited to apply for the Joshua M. Freeman Tribute Grant. The other finalists include Community Ministry of Montgomery County, The Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States and The National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale of Montgomery County.