- NeighborWorks Salt Lake is strengthening life skills programs that have helped teenagers in low-income areas of Salt Lake City become the first in their families to graduate from college.
- The non-profit is using a $50,000 grant from Marathon Petroleum to support educational initiatives that have served almost 3,800 teenagers and adults.
- The funds also support neighborhood beautification projects that have led to more than 820 homes being repainted.
NeighborWorks® Salt Lake (NWSL) has seen teenagers who go through its programs eventually start their own businesses or become the first in their families to graduate from college. Representatives of the non-profit organization point to a recent $50,000 grant from Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) as a way of expanding this success through initiatives that focus on low-income neighborhoods near MPC’s refinery on Salt Lake City’s west side.
“A girl named Heba was so impacted by a trip to visit national parks that she went on to participate in a national parks conservation group and traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the protection of our national parks,” said NWSL Director of Community Initiatives and Marketing Jasmine Walton. “Since then, she has graduated college and now works to empower other young people through her work at a refugee service agency.”
The bulk of MPC’s grant will support NWSL’s YouthWorks program and Westside Leadership Institute, which have served almost 3,800 adults and teenagers since 1997. YouthWorks assists teenagers who are struggling academically and socially by providing weekly classes on life skills that will help them as they enter the workforce, such as budgeting, goal setting, resume writing and building healthy relationships. Participants also take part several days a week in neighborhood beautification projects that involve landscaping work and painting. The Westside Leadership Institute helps area residents learn how to organize as community groups to bring attention to neighborhood challenges and concerns in hopes of resolving them. Some of the institute’s courses are taught by business leaders, local community members and professors from the University of Utah.
“The organization’s programs not only provide immediate returns, they also plant seeds that will generate benefits years from now.”
“The Westside Leadership Institute offers courses throughout the year in both Spanish and English to help residents who want to gain skills that move the needle on issues they are passionate about,” Walton said. “West View Media was created by residents who attended one of our first fundamentals courses 17 years ago. This non-profit news organization focuses on westside issues through content authored by local aspiring writers from the west side.”
Straight from the heart
The remainder of MPC’s funds are sponsoring NWSL’s 2022 Paint Your Heart Out and Rake Your Heart Out events. These annual, one-day volunteer efforts bring together hundreds of people to paint and clean up the residences of homeowners who are not physically or financially able to maintain their homes. For several years, employees from MPC’s refinery have participated in Paint Your Heart Out, painting houses in neighborhoods around the facility. Since Paint Your Heart Out began in 1985, more than 820 Salt Lake City homes have been repainted.
“Given the location of our refinery, we feel a strong connection to NWSL’s core mission to create opportunity in this area of the city by preserving and revitalizing local neighborhoods,” said MPC’s Salt Lake City Refinery General Manager Eric Sjunnesen. “The organization’s programs not only provide immediate returns, they also plant seeds that will generate benefits years from now.”