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Making Connections around Youth Philanthropy

Displaying IMG_9533.JPGThis special post was created as a follow-up to a Massachusetts Youth Philanthropy gathering held in November 2015, and it truly illustrates the magic of in-person connections for youth philanthropists. This great group of Massachusetts (and some Northeast) youth philanthropists and the adults who support them wants to continue to share stories, news, and information about the next MA Youth Philanthropy gathering. Subscribe to the list serve by filling out this form or emailing Katherine-at-fcfox.org.  For other opportunities to connect in-person, check out YPC’s events.  Feel free to share this with your friends and colleagues too!

By Kelly Nowlin

Principal, KDN Consulting; Chair of Andrus Family Philanthropy Program (Surdna Foundation); Executive Director (in residence) for Hopkinton CC Charitable Foundation

Last week, my daughter, Haley, and her friend, Nora, joined me for a special visit to South Community High School in Worcester.  Principal, Maureen Binienda, invited us to experience the school and to learn more deeply about their longstanding youth philanthropy program.  The three of us were really excited since we are engaging with the Hopkinton CC Charitable Foundation in an effort to launch a youth philanthropy program in Hopkinton and surrounding communities in the MetroWest.  We have the good fortune, thanks to schools like South Community High and the Foundation for MetroWest, to look at successful models and consider partnerships in this effort.

Principal Binienda spent the full day with us, introducing us to students, showing us the different programs at the school and providing us the chance to talk with six members of their youth philanthropy program.  Who better to reflect on this special day than Haley and Nora, both 10th graders at Hopkinton High School, who are leading this partnership effort:

Q:  Why were you interested in taking a day off of school to go and spend the day at South Community High School?

Haley: “I went because it’s good to see how different our schools are and how they do their work.  It was interesting to see how different life can be for other people even if they live only 30 minutes away.”

Nora: “I wanted to go because it was a chance to see the way another school functions and how it is the same and different from the schools in Hopkinton.  Also, it was a great opportunity to learn from them about how they value philanthropy and their youth program.

Q:  What was one of the highlights for you during your visit?

Haley: “Having the chance to sit in on an advanced 9th grade English class.  It really showed how unique the school is.  Nobody was afraid to be themselves.  Everyone was involved in the class and paying attention.  They were all working really hard and it’s inspirational to see how people who might come from low income situations and even homelessness, are able to have so much opportunity.”

Nora: “My favorite part was meeting with the girls who are involved in the philanthropy program and hearing about how dedicated they are to the work and how passionate they are about helping their community.”

Q:  What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Haley: “That no matter where you are, or how you are doing things, we are all pretty much the same.  South Community High School showed that it doesn’t matter how hard your life is, you can be given amazing opportunities to improve your life and open so many doors that were never opened before.  In Hopkinton, we don’t think about how lucky we may be to have the kind of life that we do.  Some students [at South Community High School] have absolutely nothing.  The school offers them so many opportunities and gives them hope that their futures can be bright and that they can make an impact.”

Nora: “My biggest takeaway was probably the energy that everyone we talked to had, and how strong their connection to each other and their school and town was.  Everyone was welcoming and kind, and it was obvious that the people we met were really heartfelt about what they do to help others.”

Q:  What makes you excited about a potential collaboration between our youth philanthropy programs?

Haley: “We can share different ideas and new perspectives.  We would have the opportunity to collaborate with people who come from different backgrounds and cultures.  We can talk with each other about what we are passionate about and compare ideas on how we can help both of our communities.”

Nora: “I’m excited to collaborate with their program because of how much we have a chance to learn from them and how we have an opportunity to create a kind of collaboration that has never been done before.”

Haley, Nora and I truly appreciated this opportunity to witness new approaches to learning and to see how engaged so many of the students are in giving back through the school’s youth philanthropy program.  We can’t wait to go back again soon with more Hopkinton students to attend South Community High School’s youth philanthropy meeting and observe their grant review process.  Stay tuned!

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