Every year, the millennial-led Spruce Foundation grants a total of $20,000 to four local organizations working with youth in one of the following fields: education, health and wellness, the arts and LGBTQ rights.
That’s $5,000 each — a modest enough sum, but as members of the all-volunteer foundation have told us before, the task is torrid enough as-is, considering the foundation’s capacity. Either way, the size of the grant is nothing to complain about for awardees, many of which are small startup nonprofits.
And it’s not just the money — winners are also granted a team of volunteers and PR assistance. It’s how the Spruce Foundation hopes to redefine philanthropy and shape the next generation of philanthropists.
“Our generation can — and needs to — play a vital role in making a difference not only for our city’s youth, but in so many other important areas,” said board president Matt Kurilla, adding that most millennials feel they haven’t accumulated enough wealth to make an impactful contribution. “The Spruce Foundation works to show millennials that whatever financial gifts and gifts of time they can make today are important, and enough, and make a difference.”
Arielle Brousse, the foundation’s VP of Operations, said competition was fierce this year. Here are this year’s grantees — and why they were picked.
- The Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory (Education) for its “Boat Build and Sail” program, which teaches River Wards youth how to work together to build and sail their own wooden boats. “In a world that is increasingly digital, Spruce Foundation liked the idea of out-of-school-time youth learning to build something with their hands — setting goals, troubleshooting, and seeing the fruits of their labor manifestly,” Brousse said.
- The Portside Arts Center (Arts & Culture) for its ArtsMobile program, which delivers arts education curricula to local elementary schools. Brousse said Spruce feels Portside is on the cusp of something big — that the organization “demonstrates not only a commitment to enriching the lives of their neighborhood children through integrated arts education, but also a thoughtful and sustainable approach to partnership with existing institutions like the School District of Philadelphia.”
- Greener Partners (Health & Wellness) to send their students to the Rooted in Community Youth Leadership Summit to polish their leadership skills and apply them to food justice issues. Brouse said that while Spruce Foundation has long-supported projects committed to youth leadership, they felt Greener Partners’ “youth programs — focused on nutrition, advocacy and education, environmental stewardship, entrepreneurship, and intergenerational mentorship — were deeply rooted in community in an interesting and sustainable way.”
- Girls Rock Philly (LGBTQ) for a new songwriting workshop for queer youth and youth exploring their own sexuality. “For ten years, GRP has been serving girls in our city with programs related to music mentorship and healthy social development, and they developed this workshop series when they recognized an unmet need among their youth to address questions about sexuality and identity head-on,” Brousse said.
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