We want to invest in young people’s ideas for bringing about change.
From research and experience, we’ve come to understand that philanthropy is a learned activity. We believe children and young people learn to show a love of mankind and make their communities better places as they model the actions of caring adults. We also believe the best way for young people to learn philanthropy is by practicing it!
For 27 years, we’ve made investments to support community leaders as they help young people bring about change in their communities. We call this area of support youth philanthropy, and we think the teenage years are the perfect time to offer these experiences.
Why is philanthropy so right for teens? Our research tells us that teens:
- Become interested in society and their role in it.
- Are capable of advanced reasoning and logical thought processes.
- Begin to carefully think through issues of social justice.
- Start to ponder their purpose in life.
- Need support and understanding from caring adults as they discover their place in society.
- Need positive adult role models.
- Need opportunities for meaningful participation at home, school, and within the community.
Our vision is that more young people have the opportunity to test their philanthropic ideas. We welcome communities, schools, and youth-serving organizations within our grantmaking areas to send us their proposals for increasing the number of young people who experience the contagious feeling of doing good to help others.
If you’re ready to share your proposal with us, click here.
We invest in Youth Pods.
One way we promote youth philanthropy is by investing in projects that we receive through our responsive grantmaking process. Another way is by proactively investing in Youth Pods.
Youth Pods are groups of teens located throughout our grantmaking areas. With support from their local community foundation, these groups are charged with learning philanthropy by using their own ideas to demonstrate a love of mankind.
The perfect Youth Pod would be made up of laser-focused, fully empowered teens who work together with adults who always know the right thing to say and do. In reality, Youth Pods are imperfect training grounds where caring adults (we like to call them “navigators”) offer busy teens the chance to allocate their time, talent, and treasure (in this case a grant from the Dekko Foundation). Both adults and teens learn from their experiences.
The result is a real-world opportunity for teens to try out their philanthropic ideas.
- Through responsive grantmaking, teens learn to be flexible, respect other people’s opinions, and be considerate of others’ feelings.
- Through community service, teens learn to be responsible, gain experience with event planning, and view their community through a broader and more mature lens.
- Through proactive grantmaking, Youth Pod members use their resources to initiate community change.
Since the first Youth Pod was started in 1994, more than 1,000 young people have participated in the 13 Youth Pods located across our grantmaking areas.
The result? A survey of Youth Pod alumni showed them to be grateful for their experience:
- 80% said they gained important skills such as decision making, leadership, communication, financial responsibility, awareness of the nonprofit sector, and knowledge of formal philanthropy.
- 50% said their Youth Pod experience shaped who they are today.
- Another 12% stated they attribute everything they’ve accomplished to their Youth Pod experience!
Through our support of Youth Pods and the results we’ve seen, we’re convinced of their value to young people. If you would like to learn more about them, or if you’re a young person in our grantmaking areas interested in joining a Youth Pod, please contact us or your local community foundation.