News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 15, 2021
Hatch Fund sees post-pandemic increase in scholarship applicants

by Carrie Jeffrey

The Hatch Community Youth Fund, established in 2012 to serve the resident youth of Castine, Penobscot and Brooksville, has seen an increase in participation after more youth activities were made available this year. In the first three months of 2021, applications for scholarships were close to surpassing those of 2020.

While the pandemic brought about many struggles in terms of youth activities, the Hatch Fund found a spike of enrollment in easily socially distanced sports, such as horseback riding, swimming, skiing and gymnastics. More specifically, programs such as Castine Kayak Adventures found an excess in subscriptions to their programs, according to Sonja O’Donnell, Hatch Fund board member and chair of marketing.

“Camps being closed was really socially hard on these kids,” said O’Donnell in a phone interview.

Despite last year’s unexpected numbers, the Hatch Fund has already seen an uptick in applicants due to pandemic-related restrictions being lifted. Camps reopening have especially increased the demand for scholarships.

The Hatch Community Youth Fund is dedicated to making sports and other enrichment activities available to all resident youth. Kids and organizations can apply online for scholarships and grants. The fund staff then review these applications and, if approved, provide the applicants with needed funds.

For individual applicants, this money typically goes towards paying for camps, lessons and team sports. The fund doesn’t limit these activities to the state of Maine. If a child from Castine, Penobscot or Brooksville applies for an out-of-state camp or related program, the fund will consider it.

For larger organizations, this money can be used to purchase more equipment or to fund a certain kind of program that the organization wishes to implement. For example, the Adams School in Castine applied to the fund to purchase outdoor learning tents to maintain socially distanced learning.

Originally named the Frank Hatch Community Youth Fund, after the death of Frank Hatch in 2012, the organization was renamed to the Hatch Community Youth Fund the following year after the passing of Harold Hatch in 2013. While the two Castine men were unrelated, they both shared a dedication to the community’s youth as well as a love for recreational activities and sports. The fund commemorates their love of the community and serves to instill important values of team work, collaboration and persistence in children through sports and other activities.

“It really does change a lot of kids’ lives,” said O’Donnell.

If interested in applying for the HCYF, or for information to make a donation, visit