Youth Philanthropy Connect (YPC) is a special project of the Frieda C. Fox foundation, dedicated to connecting and empowering youth philanthropists across the country…and increasingly the world!  YPC held a three-day conference at Disneyland Resort on July 7th-9th. Youth ages 8-21 and the adults who support them gathered from all over the country from family foundations, community foundations, nonprofits, and school programs to discuss the future of philanthropy. The following reflection was penned by a 19-year-old staff member of Youth Philanthropy Connect.  Check out our social media for additional reflections as they are published and for more photos from the epic event packed with impact! 

Over the past three days, I have witnessed 16 teenagers on YPC’s Leadership Team from all over the country lead the youth philanthropy movement.

I have listened to smart kids ask good questions about important topics like institutional racism, homelessness, and education.

I have clocked a workshop room projector set-up time at one minute and three seconds.

I have seen a girl become overwhelmed with emotion while addressing 160 conference attendees over societal injustices currently playing out on the national

I have belted the lyrics of “Let it Go” with my boss during Disney’s World of Color water show.   Take a few minutes for a smile now if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

I have heard approximately eight different definitions of philanthropy, and exactly zero that I disagree with.

I have heard a facilitator ask, “What does magic look like?” and a child respond, “It’s when your heart sings.”

I have heard quotes from Dory the fish and Desmond Tutu the Nobel Laurette thrown around in the same conversation and both be relevant.

IMG_4083I have worn a hat made of balloons, imagination, and human ingenuity, and I have juggled balls of play dough in front of smiling 8-year-olds.  Philanthropy should be hard work…and fun!

I have heard people from different places, with different backgrounds, all tell me the same thing: they feel inspired by the dialogues of this weekend!

I have bonded with a stranger over a shared love for chocolate-covered, mickey-shaped rice crispy treats.  The power of fun food should not be underestimated when working with youth.

I have walked through the amusement park with a 7th grader discussing the need for environmentally-friendly fireworks as a display of colorful explosions painted the night sky above us.

I have led a conversation about sustaining a community’s needs and did almost none of the talking.

I have flipped through my newspaper on my flight back to New York and read stories of violence, of bigotry, of discrimination, and of hatred—plaguing an already-divided country.

But I have been to YPC 2016—so I can’t help but have hope for solutions that will stem from curiosity, inquiry, deliberation, and action.

I have seen the future, and it looks brighter than I ever could have imagined.

Magdalen Sullivan is a YPC fellow. She has been engaged in her family foundation, the Tracy Family Foundation, since she was 5 years old. Majoring in Political Science and English, she will start her junior year at Boston College this fall. Applications for the YPC fellowship are due August 5th—open to all undergrads who seek professional development in the youth philanthropy movement! Wish to connect? Email [email protected]