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Dec 29, 2021

Foundation Launches ‘Applaud & Give Back’ Program for Performing Arts Students

The Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids (AOK) Foundation is proud to announce the launch of the new “Applaud & Give Back” program, sponsored by the Grunin Foundation. The program will provide funding for young adults, ages 18 to 22, with financial need to continue taking performing arts lessons that were previously funded by the AOK Foundation during their senior year of high school.

Until now, AOK has been able to fund disadvantaged students for dance, acting, instrumental music, or vocal lessons until age 18, while still in high school. Unfortunately, many of those students were unable to afford the cost of continuing those lessons after graduation and forced to stop doing something they loved. Those lessons also often served as their extended family, a constant in their lives, and an opportunity for vital creative expression through life’s challenges. Through the Applaud & Give Back program, with generous support from the Grunin Foundation, the AOK Foundation will be able to extend financial support to graduates who were funded during their last year of high school.

AOK also knows how important it is for this age group to gain professional work experience and have mentors to guide them. Students in the Applaud & Give Back program must donate 40 hours per year to the foundation, where they will gain experience in volunteerism, learn about the inner workings of a nonprofit, help support the organization, and be given the tools they need to be successful in a work environment. This program provides a well-rounded experience, where participants will also meet and interact with others who are being funded through the program, meet the foundation’s sponsors and donors, and, if applicable, perform with the AOK Performance Group. 

Jodi Grinwald, CEO and co-founder of the Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation, stated, “The foundation is extremely grateful for the ongoing generous support of the Grunin Foundation. There are many non-profit organizations that provide benefits to children, but once they turn 18 years old, they lose those benefits. If a high school senior is being funded by AOK and continues to meet the financial needs requirements, they can apply to be funded until they are 22 years old. We feel that young adults who are just starting out still need a creative outlet and to feel supported. The Applaud & Give Back Program not only funds ongoing lessons, but also provides professional development and experience for those in the program. The students can volunteer to help at events, do office or computer work, or even perform while gaining skills they can put on their resume and make new connections that can help them along their career journey. When the Grunin Foundation learned about this new program being launched, they immediately agreed to be the first sponsor. The Grunin Foundation has supported the Applaud Our Kids Foundation in many ways since its inception in 2017, not only through funding but by providing advice and key introductions in the community. We are so appreciative for all they have done and we are preparing for an influx of participants in the Applaud & Give Back program as students currently being funded get older.”

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