Youth Want to Learn About Social Activism in Schools

Jonathan Christie


A recent survey our Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) program conducted with the Scottish Youth Parliament found that more than 80% of young people believed activity focused on philanthropy and social activism should be part of the core secondary curriculum.

Empowering young people to meaningfully contribute to their communities while developing their own skillsets is vitally important to us as a Foundation.

Education is so much more than accreditation and now, more than ever, there is an explicit focus on providing meaningful opportunities to engage young people in creativity, curiosity, and critical inquiry.

Through a unique combination of research, teamwork, and competition, YPI empowers young people to make a difference in their communities. It often introduces them to a range of sensitive and difficult social issues and shows them how they can have a positive impact.

This is a very different philanthropic route and truly puts the power into young people’s hands. Pupils then choose a social issue to focus on and then it’s their opportunity to develop a presentation in a bid to secure £3000 to go directly to an organization of their choice.

We monitor the causes that the participants are representing to gain real insight into what is important to the younger generation. These additional insights will allow us to further explore how YPI can support and contribute to sustained youth social activism

In the first half of the 2018/2019 school year, 25% of charities that received YPI grants were those dealing with victims of sexual and domestic abuse. This contrasts with a recent report by the End Violence Against Women Coalition which revealed a ‘worrying lack of understanding of what rape actually is’. Giving young people the opportunity to understand the complexities of these issues and empowering them to speak out and speak up is hugely important for the evolution of such attitudes.

In the previous academic year, 20% of all our recipient charities directly dealt with mental health issues. Again, these are important conversations for young people to have at this formative stage of their lives to shed the stigma and raise awareness about mental health issues.

Over the years, we’ve seen that more than 70% of young people stay engaged with their charity after their time in the YPI program. YPI is often a catalyst for ongoing philanthropy and we see our investment in the young people and the charities go far beyond the end of the academic year.

By the end of the 2018/2019 school year, YPI will have empowered 175,000 young people to channel grants of £4m to grassroots charities. While these figures are impressive, we know the true impact that is almost immeasurable is empowering youth through systemic philanthropic efforts.

Picture of About Jonathan Christie

About Jonathan Christie

Jonathan is the Deputy UK Director of The Wood Foundation.