In 2016, Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County applied for an “Engaging Younger Youth” matching grant from Habitat for Humanity International in partnership with State Farm Insurance Company to expand its Youth United program.

The Youth United group had to use $1,000 in capacity-building funds from Habitat International to engage younger students and to raise at least $4,000 as well as perform community outreach throughout the year to receive a $4,000 matching grant from State Farm to be applied towards a qualified project. Youth United’s chosen project was to sponsor its 5th home for a family in Fairfield County.

Fulfilling the requirements for the grant proved to be a quite an incentive for the younger Youth United students to become more involved with Habitat CFC. Here are some of the things they accomplished in the past year while pursuing this grant:

Habitat CFC expanded work days for youth from once a month to at least two and sometimes three per month. Students aged 16 and older did construction work once a month for a whole day, while the students aged 11 and up (middle school) usually worked 3 to 3.5 hours landscaping, fencing or painting.

Youth United hosted craft work days (usually 2-3 hours) open to the youngest students where they could make items like string art on wood, beaded bracelets and sun-catchers to sell at Habitat CFC’s ReStore. They were also able to help build bookcases, plant stands and foot stools to sell. Parents were invited to join the younger students as well because they had requested having projects where they could work together with their kids.

Younger students were inspired to start their own fundraisers. One 5th grade student started a lemonade stand with her friends, while two middle school sisters hosted a Halloween party. These two projects brought in over $900! They also handed out Habitat CFC brochures and the students at the lemonade stand sold craft items they had made.

At the Easton Community Center, middle school students were engaged with Habitat CFC during their six-week summer camp. Over 50 different students made crafts to sell, held a car wash which raised $680 and did landscaping projects. A Habitat CFC homeowner also spoke to the group and several homeowners’ children helped teach the craft workshops.

The older students in Youth United reached out to do four Read-Alouds and discussions over the past year at the after-school programs of two K-8 schools (Marin and Tisdale) in Habitat CFC’s major Bridgeport neighborhoods. The students used the Habitat CFC readers about international programs and then did some hands-on projects with the students. They also discussed what Habitat CFC was doing in their own neighborhoods.

The largest single fundraiser was the Hoops for Habitat event in March of 2017. Held at the McGivney Center in Bridgeport, over 120 people of all ages attended including the neighborhood city councilwoman who asked the group if the youth could work on some joint projects with the city over the summer. The students agreed and are in the process of planning a community project.

Through all their hard work, the Youth United group raised nearly $12,000 in the past year and received the $4,000 matching grant from State Farm on Saturday, June 3, 2017. Youth United members have now started to help build their 5th sponsored Habitat CFC house in Bridgeport for the Quinones family. And another major benefit from all of the group’s hard work in the past year has been the friendships formed between students of different ages who live in different communities. The fact that they can all work and learn together while giving of themselves to help others is inspiring and beneficial to them as well as to Habitat CFC and the community at large. We couldn’t be more grateful for their efforts.

To find out more about Habitat CFC’s Youth United group, please visit