When asked “What should adults know about teens today?,” Andrea Gross, a graduate of
And then you have the teens at the Center for Youth Leadership in
“Traditional philanthropy,” said Amanda Bennette, one of our graduates, “is a little too passive for us. Don’t get me wrong. Raising money and giving it away is important. We’ve awarded $85,000 in grants from our own funds and helped a major foundation in our county award $524,000 in grants to area organizations. It’s just that we like to be more assertive. That’s why we came up with what we call socially engaged philanthropy.”
Socially engaged philanthropy has four things going for it. Like a few other youth organizations in
“Our version of philanthropy has a lot of benefits,” said Sarah Krouse, a graduate of the Center for Youth Leadership. “We focus on just a handful of issues, which helps unite our 220 members. The grant making allows us to influence the work of agencies. The public awareness and activism activities educate people and sharpen our advocacy skills. The volunteer programs add real faces to our work and make us more discerning grant makers. And the social change campaigns influence policies, laws and the way people think about the issues we address – child abuse, teen dating violence, human trafficking, and the rights of day laborers.
Another important element of socially engaged philanthropy is its emphasis on campaigns. “We’re not big fans of one-shot deals, which are often passed off as making a difference in the community,” said Amanda. “We actually think they dumb down the skills, passion and smarts that people our age bring to an issue. We ask high schools that adopt our model of activism to tell prospective members that they are joining a campaign; that they are investing their time and energy in a program that may not show results during their high school career. Members have to be comfortable planting seeds of change for the future.”