By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Getting students closer to fulfilling their dreams is the basic intent of the non-profit known as the Dassel-Cokato Youth Trust.
Under its umbrella are many spokes, all benefiting youth and the community of Dassel-Cokato, explained DC Youth Trust Chair Wendy Seefeldt.
Seefeldt has been involved with the organization since its conception in 1998. As a Dassel-Cokato School Board member, she worked with the superintendent at the time, Ed Otto, on the idea of starting a 501c (3) to support the youth of the community.
With the help of a few other instrumental community members including Carolyn Holje, Jim Loe, and Lee Peterson, Dassel-Cokato Youth Trust was organized and granted non-profit status in July 1998.
Its roots, however, go back to 1994-95, when community members came together to discuss needs of youth and families.
A task force of community members that included representation from churches, business, city government, school, parents, and youth, met to discuss the Character Counts Initiative and developed the Character Building Pillars of Respect, Responsibility, Resiliency, Integrity, Compassion and Understanding Diversity which are still taught today.
Through a 501c (3) nonprofit foundation, the group envisioned being the umbrella that oversees, supports, and provides the funding base for various programs by sharing resources (both time and fiscal), coming together, and focusing on common goals to support DC youth and its community.
One of the first major donations to DC Youth Trust was $100,000 to start the Bill Hempel Golf program.
Since then, the DC Youth Trust umbrella has come to include Charger Boosters, the Dassel-Cokato Arts Association, Dassel-Cokato Rechargers, and, most recently, the Dassel-Cokato Scholars, formerly known as Dollars for Scholars.
In 2013, when the national organization of Dollars for Scholars, Scholarship America, began requiring local chapters to adopt a new operating constitution, the local board began exploring other options.
It only made sense that the scholarship program would be operated under the DC Youth Trust umbrella, Seefeldt explained.
At this year’s Baccalaureatte program, DC Scholars presented 13 awards, ranging from $300 to $1,000.
Though some scholarships are awarded to those students who meet the set criteria, other scholarships are often given in honor of someone who has passed away.
For example, most recently started was an agriculture scholarship fund in honor of Brandon Scherping, a 2008 DC graduate who died tragically in a work-related accident.
The Charger Boosters was organized under the Dassel-Cokato Youth Trust umbrella in August 2003, and in turn, operate and staff the concession stands at school district events.
The Charger Boosters includes 10 of the district’s booster programs including basketball, FFA, football, speech, girls’ and boys’ swim, gymnastics, National Honor Society, volleyball, and drama.
Their mission is to promote and support extra/co-curricular programs and participants. The financial support through this program has been important in order to maintain the number of coaches the district has, and purchase equipment beyond what the school budget can afford.
The ReChargers was started by retired school employees and organized under DC Youth Trust in April 2012.
As former school employees, the ReChargers had many opportunities over the years to see firsthand the needs of many of their students.
The mission of ReChargers is to financially support the students in need in the Dassel-Cokato School District, with the cooperation of school personnel in identifying those needs.
Not only for former school employees, the ReChargers is open to anyone in the community who has the same passion to support students.
DC Arts Association
The Dassel-Cokato Arts Association was established under the DC Youth Trust in the fall of 2004. It helps the DC Youth Trust fulfill its mission of “supporting character development in our youth and in our community” by providing opportunities, for all ages, for many different types of arts experiences including concerts, visual arts, theatrical performances, art shows and artist residencies in our schools.
Donate to the cause
“I see DC Youth Trust as a means for the community to come together and work together to support our community and youth,” Seefeldt commented.
Anyone interested in donating to any of these programs, either specifically or as a whole, can do so through the DC Youth Trust. A person can also establish a fund through the non-profit, allowing all donations to be tax-deductible.
For more information, contact Seefeldt at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (320) 275-3063.
Donations can be mailed to DC Youth Trust, PO Box 451 Cokato, MN 55321.
Consider being on the board. DC Youth Trust board meets the third Tuesday of the month and is made up of liaisons from each of the groups, as well as members of the community. “We are always looking for new board members of the community,” Seefeldt said.