When I enrolled in the "Experimenting with Philanthropy" course at my college, I had the opportunity to work with a board of my peers to distribute $10,000 to local nonprofits. After so many years of being a dedicated supporter of the nonprofit sector-- from childhood bakesale fundraising to volunteering at homeless shelters and completing summer internships -- I finally felt like I was playing a real, powerful role in the social sector. I only wish to have gotten involved with grantmaking sooner.
Engaging youth in grantmaking increases their agency and leadership skills while also bringing much needed fresh perspective to the field. After the course, I became passionate about the need for young people, even children and teens, to act as real leaders in philanthropy.
BREAKING NEWS: They already are! When I started interning at Foundation Center this summer, I dove in to help with the launch of YouthGiving.org, a website that gathers and shares information about the youth giving movement so that young changemakers, and the adults who support them, can access amazing tools for youth grantmaking, like:
- A funding map tracking youth-driven grants around the world
- A program directory with over 800 youth grantmaking programs
- Hundreds of resources about engaging youth in philanthropy
- News about the movement, upcoming events, blog posts from experts, and LOTS MORE!
Little did I know, there are at least 14 youth grantmaking programs where I grew up (Washington state), 35 in Massachusetts where I attend school, and hundreds more around the world! It turns out that there are A LOT of people who are also passionate about youth being leaders in the social sector. Check out the Program Directory to find youth giving programs where you live.
There are tons of young people who are making real, tangible change in their communities. In fact, youth have made more than $14 million in grants since 2001 (check out grants data on the Funding Map) -- youth grantmaking is not just a cute group of kiddos running a lemonade stand for charity, although that's great, too!
YouthGiving.org connects members of the youth giving movement, elevates the stories of incredible young leaders, and provides a gathering place to propel the movement forward. This tool helps expand knowledge and collaboration about youth giving-- so that more young people can access grantmaking opportunities and those who do will see the impact their peers are making across the globe.
As this resource gains traction, I hope that other young people like me will know that they're not alone in thinking that youth deserve a space at the grantmaking table.
SARAH BAHN is a knowledge services fellow at Foundation Center. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in peace and justice studies at Tufts University.
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