REGION — After a nine-month process, The River Fund recently received its 501(c)(3) status, certifying it as an authentic nonprofit organization.

Founded in 2018, it has the primary goal of “creating educational and recreational opportunities and experiences” for youth in and surrounding the Oxford County area.

Executive Director Jim Largess is ready to get the ball rolling after the latest breakthrough.

“Achieving 501(c)(3) status is the gold standard for new charities. It is a big deal,” Largess said. The next big step will happen this fall, with “Design Thinking,” an educational workshop that will teach kids five different skills.

“The goal is to give kids a real world problem and ask them to try and solve it,” Largess said of the workshop. “It doesn’t just happen by magic, there are processes, there are steps you can take in order to get there.”

The first skill taught will be how to interview people who are dealing with a problem and how to understand their issue. Secondly, they will learn to separate a “core issue from the contributing factors. Third, is to educate them on what it means to “brainstorm.” The last two focus on teaching them how to build a consensus and then how to communicate and present all the information they have gathered.

“They’ll teach them what they’re going to teach them and then they will ask them to present that,” Largess said.

The workshop is being run by Sara Shiffrin, who is a teacher at Gould Academy.

“This is right in Sara’s wheelhouse; she loves this stuff,” Largess said. “It’s her passion. Having her lead it is great for The River Fund and great for the kids.”

The workshop will take place at one of Sunday River’s hotels, and the set up will be similar to a “business setting,” as Largess put it.

“We will put them up in a hotel Friday and Saturday night and feed them breakfast, lunch and dinner and then they will be immersed in this class for the weekend,” Largess said.

Organizers hope to have 12-20 kids attend and preferably want it to consist of second- and third-year students.

The workshop will last for one weekend only.

Largess said The River Fund is working with local schools to decide who will be part of the program.

The other big program, expected to start in the fall of 2020, is The River Fund Scholarship Program.

“We want to set kids up to come out of school with the least possible amount of debt the best way we can,” Largess said. “We want to help with that process.”

Largess said that kids will receive up to $20,000 to help them with school. It would include tuition, room and board, books and meals.

Largess the number of kids the program will aid will depend on the amount of money the fund can raise.

The River Fund also hopes to set kids up with paid summer internships during the summer, which allow them to get a jump start on whatever career they are pursuing.


The River Fund has a couple of events coming up to raise money. On Saturday, Aug. 17, the “Par 3 Party” will be held at the Bethel Inn. Participants will play nine holes of golf, with three clubs and play the best ball each shot. The nine hole fun will run from 5-7 p.m. and will be followed by a party afterward. There will be a tent set up outside the Bethel Inn, food and music.

“We’re happy to partner with the Bethel Inn. They do a nice job and got a good scene going on there,” Largess said.

The whole package (golf and a meal) cost $100. People interested in only attending the dinner would pay $50. All the money will go toward the fund.

Although prizes will be awarded for best score, best dressed and most strokes, Largess stressed that the golf is “just for fun.”

Some added fun is the “hole-in-one contest.” If any participant gets a hole-in-one the player will win $10,000. The chance to get a hole-in-one will be only on one of the two par three holes on the front nine holes of the course.

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