At their grantmaking ceremony last week, thirteen members of the YOUTHadelphia board, the teenage advisory committee of The Philadelphia Foundation’s Fund for Children, awarded $50,000 to youth-serving nonprofits.
Priority areas were determined by the teens, and each grantee received $10,000. GALAEI received a grant for LGBTQ support. Communities in Schools Philadelphia, Juvenile Law Center, Philadelphia MLK Jr. Association for Nonviolence, and Variety, the Children’s Charity of Philadelphia were selected as recipients for their work related to mental health and wellness.
Since it was launched in 2004, YOUTHadelphia has made 75 unique grants, totaling more than $645,000. Two teenage cohorts — in the fall and spring — appropriate $100,000 each year.
The teenage philanthropists, who attend a range of public, private and parochial schools, met once a week for three months during the fall. In addition to learning the nuances of grantmaking, they gained leadership skills, confidence, and a network of like-minded peers.
“It’s built a bond between people,” said 17-year-old Jasir Massey-Campbell, who noted that the experience has helped him evolve on a number of levels. “When you go to a public school in Philadelphia, you’re told your voice doesn’t matter,” he said.
But in the process of addressing the urgent needs of local youth, Massy-Campbell and his peers became engaged philanthropists who built something similar to a family connection.
“At the end of every cohort, [youth] always describe the group as a family,” noted Libby O’Donnell, who manages the YOUTHadelphia program for The Philadelphia Foundation.
“They have to argue about what they’re passionate about, and they have to end as friends. It’s going through those motions that they build bonds and respect for the process,” she said.
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