2018 Youth Philanthropy Grant Participants
Youth Philanthropy gives back in a number of ways. High school seniors are simultaneously immersed with a sense of responsibility for their community, while providing $5,000 in grants to local nonprofits.
“I think that the most meaningful part was helping out our community in a way that also benefited us in many ways. The next best thing was that we learned a lot about how nonprofits work and how to choose the ones that you want to support in an efficient way.”
In its 7th season, the Community Foundation of Teton Valley’s Youth Philanthropy Grant Program reached 41 seniors in two of Ms. Rose Hendrick’s Advanced Placement Government classes at Teton High School. Students were engaged “because this was an amazing experience we were given. We took it seriously because we were given real money that influenced our community in a big way.”
Carrie Mowrey took one class period to expand the students’ knowledge of philanthropy and discuss the nature of nonprofits – reiterating that any of them can donate time, talent or money to the nonprofits they care about in the future. Students then received grant packets – requests from 10 local nonprofits for a total ask of $8,500 in funding.
This live exercise in philanthropy meant asking hard questions and THS seniors did just that. After taking time to review their grant packets, students reconvened to work through the requests and determine the impact, breadth and depth of each ask. They assigned student-led facilitators to keep them to a tight timeline and capture their decisions as they discussed them.
“I liked how you gave the conversation to us and didn’t try to influence us in any way. I would have enjoyed hearing your opinions, but I think it would have detracted from the experience. I loved how people were respectful and kind to one another, even when there were disagreements.”
Each class was later allowed to bring in five nonprofits to inquire further into their grant application, programs and organization.
“My perception and understanding of the needs within my community have definitely changed. I was not aware of all the resources that are available for our community members and the resources which are they are working to expand. It was a true privilege to be able to make decisions that impact those who are currently living in our community.”
Through a process of elimination and consensus, students were able to fund 7 nonprofits grants – 4 in full and 3 in part.
“I left the classroom feeling so happy that, even though it was not my money, I had played a part in helping groups in our community. It made me feel so good, and I was so happy the rest of the day. I think donating anything to non-profit causes is super great, and I will definitely remember this project and how I can help communities in which I may live.”
Students and nonprofits alike celebrated at the Youth Philanthropy Awards Party in which student representatives graciously handed out checks to the winning nonprofits. Everyone was struck by the power of this program.
“It was meaningful in the way that people were trusting us to make wise choices. We were given this sum of money and we had the privilege to get to know these organizations well and give them a certain amount of money. That in itself was really meaningful to me. Also getting the unique experience to make these decisions with my classmates.”
This amazing program readily dove-tailed with Ms. Hendrick’s government class, offering insights into bureaucratic processes as well.
“Being placed directly in the real-life situation of having many worthwhile projects asking for resources that are far too limited to satiate them all, and therefore having to analyze the broader effect of each and narrow down what was the highest priority is the type of work and decision making our officials and representatives face daily. It certainly highlighted how important it is to really take time to weigh and consider the options in order to make the best decisions.”
This amazing program engages students on so many levels – broadening their perception, understanding and awareness of our local nonprofits, community needs, passionate local leaders and philanthropy. By giving them the full responsibility of granting real money to actual community needs, students were empowered “that we were actually making a difference. It wasn’t just a high school class that day, we were a decision-making group that was making a real change in our community.”
There is no doubt that this experience will have lasting effects for its participants and give back to our community in a multitude of ways over time, as assured by participating students:
“This project has made me really want to be more involved with our community and nonprofit organizations because I didn’t realize, until this project, what a big role they play in our community.”
“I will be more likely to donate time, talent, or money to non-profit causes. Coming face-to-face with the needs of my own community created an awareness of our needs. My aspiration to be a more active member of my community was renforced. It is amazing to think that putting aside time to volunteer for others can change someone’s day and your own as well.”