MV Youth, a seven-year-old nonprofit supporting youth-serving and educational organizations on the Vineyard, announced Monday afternoon that it has given more than $840,000 in grants to three Island nonprofits and the Martha’s Vineyard public school district.

“The goal of MV Youth has alway been very simple and very straightforward: supporting Island kids, teenagers and young adults,” executive director Lindsey Scott said at the outset of the Zoom call announcing the awards.

The school district received a $212,150 grant to support a Covid-19 surveillance program that will batch-test saliva samples from staff and students at all Island schools, from January until the end of the school year. The money fills the last funding hole in the total budget of $462,150 for the plan, which is also supported by the Martha’s Vineyard Bank Charitable Foundation and the all-Island school committee.

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate MV Youth coming through for us,” said school committee member Alex Salop.

“We can still have kids in school if we incorporate the kinds of protections that, for example, this testing program allows us to do,” he said.

Two epidemiologists and public health experts advised the committee on the plan, which will test home spit samples in pools of 24 using the PCR molecular test.

Schoolchildren are expected to be among the last people to receive the Covid-19 vaccine due to their age and the testing will help ensure they can stay in school safely, said Ron Rappaport, a member of MV Youth’s local advisory board and the master of ceremonies for the Zoom awards event.

A $281,087, three-year grant to Adult & Continuing Education Martha’s Vineyard (ACE MV) will help fund a partnership with the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School called Career Pathways Advancement, designed for Vineyarders aged 16 to 25.

ACE MV executive director Holly Bellebuono said the program aims to reach two different groups of young Islanders: teenagers in need of career guidance before they graduate from high school and those aged 18 to 25 who may not be in college or working regularly.

“We don’t have data on how many kids there are . . . who go away from Martha’s Vineyard to college or university and just stop,” said Ms. Bellebuono, adding that some of the grant will be used to try and clarify how many young adults return to the Island without a degree or certificate.

A website and a mobile app and a staff career counselor are among other elements of the new program, she said.

High school principal Sarah Dingledy said she hopes the program will help encourage struggling students to stay through graduation.

The Island Autism Group received a $250,000 grant for the farm and community center it is establishing in West Tisbury, on land co-purchased with the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank earlier this month.

“There are 56 [Island] children up to the age of 25 who have autism,” said Mr. Rappaport, adding that an estimated 200 Islanders of all ages have autism.

“This will have a significant impact on the community,” he said, before inviting Island Autism Group president and co-founder Kate DeVane to speak.

“Our mission is really to take kids from birth to the end of their lives and transform what they do for fun into what they can do for a living so, their lives can be meaningful and productive,” Ms. DeVane said.

A $100,000 expansion grant went to the Foundation for Underway Experiential Learning (FUEL), to continue using the tall ship Shenandoah — donated by its original owner, Bob Douglas, earlier this year — to provide educational experiences for young Islanders and Vineyard visitors.

The donation completes the first phase of the nonprofit’s $1 million dollar capital campaign, which also seeks to underwrite administration and ownership expenses, program development expenses and a scholarship endowment.

“Shenandoah is now at Mystic Seaport getting much-needed repairs that this grant is helping to fund,” said FUEL co-founder Casey Blum. “We are hopeful we will be able to resume safe programming next summer.”

Six middle school classes have already signed up for the traditional live-aboard learning trip in 2021, Ms. Blum said. The MVYouth grant will help bring back beloved Island rite of passage, canceled due to Covid this year, for the next five summers, said Ms. Blum and co-founder Ian Ridgeway.

More information about MV Youth is posted at