Following a successful spring 2020 pilot program funded by Guardian Life Insurance Co., and a program-hold due to the Pandemic, we have hired a teaching artist and education consultant, revised the curriculum to address post-COVID social and emotional needs, and re-piloted at Reid Middle School in the fall of 2023.  We are currently seeking funding to help roll out the program in middle schools across the county in 2024 and 2025.


Our customized lessons that tie into core curriculum requirements are supported by teachers and administrators. Students use the NPC’s Giving Back guide as a tool to identify nonprofits to assist. In our model, each student is empowered with a stipend of $50 to give to one or more nonprofits of their choosing. Students pool their money, research nonprofits and make presentations to each other, and ultimately vote and donate to one or more nonprofit recipients.



Even a pandemic didn’t stop Reid Middle School and the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires from concluding a pilot of their “Philanthropy in the Schools” curriculum. The curriculum was created by arts integration specialist, Yvette Sirker, and teacher, LeeAnn Massery, with the goal of preparing the students to become the next generation of volunteers, donors and nonprofit leaders.


8th graders in LeeAnn Massery’s class studied youth philanthropy, the Berkshire nonprofit sector, and individual nonprofits throughout the spring semester. 31 Common Core Standards were integrated into the curriculum. The class went virtual in March due to COVID-19.


Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter

As part of the program funded by Guardian Life, each student was given $100 to donate. After research on local nonprofits and virtual classroom presentations, the students voted for two nonprofit recipients, pooling their money to make more impact. Berkshire Immigrant Center and Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter each received $650. The check presentation took place online on June 10th.


Berkshire Immigrant Center

The pilot program had the support of Reid Principal Linda Whitacre and Pittsfield Schools Superintendent Jake McCandless. Said Whitacre, “I am committed to engaging community programming into the curriculum to keep learning relevant for our students. This collaboration exceeded my expectations, especially during this set of circumstances. I am so appreciative of all of you and equally appreciative of the students involved who found meaning in the learning and had a voice in the outcome!”


Liana Toscanini, founder of the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires noted that many individuals were sought out to provide input, which contributed to the success of the program. These included Reid Middle School 8th grade guidance counselor, Kristen Shepardson, Assistant Principal of Teaching and Learning, Mike Henault, and advisors Dawn Lane, Josh Meczywor, Wendy Casey, and Shirley Edgerton.


The NPC is seeking modest sponsorships from local businesses and individuals to help fund the rollout of the program in more Berkshire schools over the coming years. For more information, click here or call (413) 441-9542.


Abbie J. von Schlegell

Aligned Workplace

The Berkshire Edge

Wendy Healey

Lamme and Linscott

MA 401(k) CORE Plan

My Versatile Secretary

October Mountain Financial Advisors

Park Square Financial Advisors of Raymond James

Elaine Radiss and Rich Petrino

Salisbury Bank

Elaine and Ben Silberstein