YouthGiving.org: Opening Up the Power of Youth as Grantmakers
September 7, 2016
(Sarah Bahn is a former Foundation Center knowledge services fellow. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in peace and justice studies at Tufts University. A version of this blog first ran on the GrantSpace blog.)
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 bake sale 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 I had known to get 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!
If this information had been easily accessible in this way when I was younger, I would have known that 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 young people being leaders in the social sector. Check out the Program Directory to find youth giving programs where you live.
“ Youth grantmaking is not just a cute group of kiddos running a lemonade stand for charity, although that's great, too!”
Thanks to YouthGiving.org making this philanthropic movement more transparent, the whole world can now see that 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 serves to make the field of grantmaking more inclusive as more young people can now see themselves as active leaders in philanthropy. By expanding knowledge and collaboration about youth giving, more young people can access grantmaking opportunities and those who do will see the impact their peers are making across the globe.
Transparency for the youth giving movement is critical because it illuminates the ways in which young people have been raising their voices to move the needle on the issues they care about. 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