Have a Question for Our Experts?

  • How Do I Start a Youth Grantmaking Program to Ensure Youth Voice? What Are the Benefits of Doing so as a Funder?

    By Kelly Davenport Nowlin

    In 2000, my family’s foundation (Surdna) established the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program to engage future generations in our family in formalized philanthropy. In addition, we created two youth programs, targeting 13-17 and 18-24 year olds, respectively (learn more here!). For years, these youth programs were designed and run by adults with expertise in the field, helping young people define what they cared about and find their identity in philanthropy. I have come across similar youth initiatives where adults get together to develop all aspects of the program, then present it to the young people to experience and implement. If the past sixteen years has taught me anything about youth philanthropy it is this: don’t take “youth” out of the development and creation of a youth philanthropy program.

    Read More

    July 27, 2016

    , , , , ,

  • What Are the SDGs and How Do They Relate to the Youth Giving Movement?

    By Arif Ekram

    United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals—better known as the SDGs—are a set of 17 universal goals  for global economic development, prosperity, human dignity, peace, justice, and partnerships. They have been agreed upon by virtually every nation on earth and will remain in effect until 2030. The SDG framework has managed to find common ground between the countless dissimilar and often opposing interests of various nations  and has aligned all of these countries under the same agenda to improve the quality of life for people around the globe. It took a great number of very skilled development professionals more than three years, but they have succeeded in putting together a universal framework – one that fits the U.S. as much as it fits Somalia.

    Read More

    July 5, 2016

    , ,

  • What Should You Focus on When Creating a New Program or Revamping Your Current One?

    By Luke Sturtz

    During my time as a youth philanthropist, I have been a part of two amazing organizations: the HANDS Foundation (Helping Achieve New Direction through Students) & phish (philanthropic ideas strategy and heart).  phish is composed of members from youth pods like HANDS, and serves as facilitators, middle-men, and host workshops for the youth pods determined to making a service-oriented impact within their respective communities. Youth pods under the Dekko Foundation are located in Indiana, Alabama, Minnesota, and Iowa—locations of Dekko manufacturing plants. I joined HANDS in the eighth grade, and over time, I quickly learned that philanthropy was a part of who I am.  As I grew in my own understanding of philanthropy, I wanted to find a way to give back to this organization that had shown me what it felt like to be a real philanthropist.  As a result, I have worked to make HANDS more impactful for its community and more empowering for its members.

    Read More

    June 21, 2016

    , , ,

  • What Do I Need to Know About Presenting to a Board? What Skills Can I Learn?

    By Katherine Scott

    As a young person, I advocated for every cause I cared about. I’d post articles on the wall of our school cafeteria about almost every issue (I was passionate about them all) and fundraise (and eventually recruit an entire team) for our local AIDS walk. I even was a very early volunteer in creating a nonprofit named MotherHouse. Through my work with that nonprofit, I became engaged in youth philanthropy. I applied for a project grant from my local community foundation’s youth philanthropy committee on behalf of my school volunteer club (leveraging lots of volunteers and great donations too!). With lots of great donations and helpful volunteers, we were able to use the grant to redo an entire room at MotherHouse. Then, I actually joined my local community foundation, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’s (CFNIL) In Youth We Trust Youth Advisory Council, because I had seen the deep impact that was possible through youth philanthropy.

    Read More

    June 15, 2016

    , , , , ,

  • What Are The Top Things Youth Need to Know About Site Visits?

    By Khayriyyah MuhammadSmith

    During my time on the Grand Rapids Youth Grant Committee in Michigan, I was able to participate in a few site visits and I learned why they are so important to the grantmaking process! Site visits can help you determine beforehand which organizations or programs to fund or they can help you see how effectively your funding is being put to use after a grant is given. It is important to be prepared when going on a site visit. Here are a few tips to help with the site visit process...

    Read More

    May 1, 2016

    , ,

  • What Should I Know About Doing a Community Needs Assessment?

    By Danielle LaJoie

    As a former member of the Battle Creek Community Foundation’s Youth Alliance Committee (YAC) and also the Michigan Community Foundations Youth Project, I’ve seen community needs assessments from both the view of a participant in the assessment and also as the creator of the assessment. A community needs assessment is a tool through which your program can gather information from those in your community, especially young people, about what needs they have and what is most important to them. The needs assessment is unique to each program and community, but ultimately it can be used to ensure the effectiveness of your giving.

    Read More

    April 22, 2016

    , , , ,

  • What Do Adults Need to Do to Really Let Youth Lead?

    By Maddie Adkins

    As the president of my high school environmental club and the youth leader of The Promise Project, I’ve learned a few things about how to empower youth to become leaders. (1) Facilitate, don’t delegate. How do you keep youth motivated? The answer is simple - true leadership is all about “facilitating”, not “delegating”. You may think that assigning tasks is the same thing as giving youth a leadership role, but until you actually give youth a real piece of the project, something that they can take ownership of and be creative with, they will always be less motivated to work on the project. Instead of asking them to design you a logo, let them be a part of creating the project behind that logo. You have to give them a reason to care about the project, and the best way to do that is to give them the space to make it their own project.

    Read More

    March 21, 2016


  • What Makes a Curriculum About Youth Grantmaking, Service-learning, or Philanthropy Good?

    By Betsy Peterson

    Excellent curriculum starts with the end in mind. Ask yourself, “What do I want youth to know and be able to do?” Starting with a clear understanding of what youth need to know as philanthropic citizens or grantmakers is the most meaningful way to guide a program’s activities and lesson content. Learning to Give, the philanthropy education resource that I run, is founded on a research-based framework of philanthropy standards and benchmarks that inform our informational papers,  1,700 lesson plans, educator mini-courses, literature guides, student activities, and other resources.

    Read More

    March 19, 2016

    , , , , ,

  • How Do We Train Youth To Be Givers?

    By Eric Rowles

    This is probably one of the most frequent questions that we regularly have heard in our work with youth philanthropy programs over the past decade. As a national training agency, we provide over 150 days of training each year to foundations, youth serving agencies, school systems, and more. We have the opportunity to work with some amazingly passionate and committed adults (and youth) that are poised to create tremendous changes in their communities.

    Read More

    March 7, 2016

    , ,