At the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people in our community were in need. With unemployment rates skyrocketing and food insecurity more prevalent, our founders, Sonali and Shayna, saw that it was more important than ever for a positive impact to be made in the community. Additionally, they saw a need within their peers who wanted to create a change in their community but didn’t have the necessary resources and guidance to do so. Using their backgrounds in service and existing connections with nonprofits, General Services Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, was created in September 2020 where they would be the ones teaching high school students to become community leaders.
Their members learned about hosting drives and fundraisers to guide members through the process of planning and executing projects that aligned with their passions and benefit the community. They were able to create a community of service-driven, passionate, curious young leaders. Since their start, they have built over 30 partnerships with local nonprofits and small businesses to understand their true needs and connect high school students to service opportunities. General Services Foundation has successfully raised over $35,000 and 35,000 items to benefit the community.
The organization initially only started with their first program in which students were introduced to the service world and guided through the process of pursuing their passion project. Through this program, they have done amazing projects like selling self-defense keychains for Interact of Wake County or their mug cake fundraiser, which was brought back by popular demand, and managed to raise $1,000 for Note in the Pocket. They collected thousands of clothing, feminine hygiene items, books, and toys. The biggest project of this program is their annual Read-A-Thon that happens every summer. The inaugural Read-A-Thon in 2021 raised $3,400 for Book Harvest to sponsor a book box and hundreds of culturally-inclusive books for children near El Futuro in Durham. This year, their Read-A-Thon, full of fun prizes, events, and lots of reading, will support A Place at the Table to raise $15,000 for 1,500 delicious meals for the community. General Services Foundation was also the focus of Giving Tuesday RDU this past year and provided nonprofits with a gift match opportunity with emotional intelligence kits and toys, created by a small business known as Open the Joy.
At the start of 2022, General Services Foundation released a brand new program after a reassessment of the needs of high school students and nonprofits. The Young Nonprofit Fellowship was created to connect high school students to nonprofits through internships. Fellows learn about nonprofit operations and develop key skills, while making a meaningful and long-term impact on a single cause they are passionate about. The pilot run of this program happening this summer will include 18 high school fellows interning at local nonprofits.