United Way Announces Vickye James Blueprint Fund Recipients

United Way of Southern Chautauqua County is pleased to announce the first recipients of the Vickye James Blueprint Fund: The Princess Club and the Book M.A.R.K. Program at YWCA Jamestown.

 The Princess Club is a community-based organization fostering mentorship, friendship, fun, and support for girls in the greater Jamestown, NY area, targeting girls ages 4-13 weekly during the summer. Youth participants directly influence the design and direction of the Princess Club by bringing experiences and concerns that relate to their personal lives, needs, and interests. The Blueprint funds will cover the expenses for general operational costs and activities that provide positive experiences and opportunities for girls to build self-esteem, reading skills and healthy habits.

“The Princess Club is privileged to have had the late Ms. Vickye James as a pivotal, leading member of the Princess Club for several years,” said Brenda Stewart, Founder and Director of the Princess Club. “Mrs. James was instrumental in ensuring the success of the Club and its mission to provide a safe, fun atmosphere for girls in the community, and she is truly missed.”

The YWCA Book M.A.R.K. (Motivating Aspiring Reading with Kindness) Program is a unique, intergenerational social justice literacy program that helps plant the seeds for the elimination of racism and discrimination among youth by focusing on the celebration of various cultures, ethnicities, and identities. Through books, personal stories, and activities, Book M.A.R.K aims to provide students and teachers alike with the tools necessary to facilitate productive conversations about racism, bullying, and discrimination. The Blueprint funds will cover training and facilitation of volunteers for the program. 

“By making this program volunteer based, we will be providing opportunities for leadership development, especially for historically underrepresented community members to lead conversations surrounding their own cultural experiences,” says Alizé Scott-Nowell, Director of Social Justice and Racial Equity at YWCA Jamestown. “We have already received strong interest from numerous schools in the county and have already begun delivering the program in Washington Middle School, Fletcher Elementary School, Bush Elementary School, and Southwestern School at both the elementary and middle school levels.” 

Ms. James, who passed away in 2021, was a member of the Board of Directors of United Way for seven years and served as Board President from 2008-2010. She was one of only four female presidents during the 122-year history of United Way, and the only African American to serve as president to date. She was passionate about serving her community, empowering youth, and giving voice to historically marginalized people in the City of Jamestown. A well-respected leader in city government, the church, and the nonprofit sector, Ms. James was widely known for working for social justice and saw leadership development as a path to achieving it. 

All requests for funding from the Vickye James Blueprint Fund must fall within Unite Way of Southern Chautauqua County’s four areas of Strategic Focus: Academic Success, Self Sufficiency, Work Readiness, and Health & Independence. Applications for funding are accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, visit uwayscc.org/vickye-james-blueprint-fund.