With assistance from the Topeka Community Foundation, the Topeka Youth Commission is excited to announce its latest recipients of Stay785, an annual grant program created to fund community projects designed and directed by youths in the Topeka and Shawnee County area.


For its 2023-2024 term, Stay785 will fund three local youth-led projects with partnering organizations. This year’s awards, totaling $10,000, were determined by members of the Topeka Youth Commission, based on the quality and strength of each project presented. Awardees include the following:

  • Naledi Mackenzie, receiving $7,400 for The Blessing Bee Project.
  • Jaiden Wen, receiving $2,000 for his Mosaic Horse Project.
  • Allie Sexton, receiving $600 for her Math Competition Project.

“It has been incredibly inspiring to see how young people continue to want to help the community around them,” said Camryn Crawford, Topeka Youth Commission chair. “We’re excited to see how the latest Stay785 projects make Topeka’s younger residents feel more welcome and included.”


The goal of Stay785 is to give young people in the area a chance to pursue initiatives that bring their visions for Topeka and Shawnee County to life, with goals of keeping youths involved in the community and attracting more young people to the area.


“I appreciated the intentionality in funding projects that will serve and provide a greater impact in Topeka and Shawnee County,” said Shane Warta, the Topeka Community Foundation’s director of strategic initiatives. “I am excited to see the area’s next generation of leaders building relationships in the community. They are reaching for new levels of creativity that continue to make Topeka a great place to live, work and give.”