From a road trip across the country to a greenhouse in a bus, the first two years of the Bozeman Youth Giving Project have been quite the journey!

In 2015, Foundant partnered with Youth Philanthropy Connect on their trip across the United States as they hosted gatherings of youth philanthropists. This trip opened our eyes to the potential for success a program like this could have in our own community in Bozeman, Montana.

However, we knew bringing this project home was not something we could (or should) do alone. So we jumped at the chance to collaborate with the Bozeman Area Community Foundation and a local youth center non-profit.

“This program is truly a collaborative effort on behalf of these three community entities. Our goal is to inspire our youth to engage and give back - and collectively, our three entities can be more effective together than alone.”

Bridget Wilkinson, Executive Director, Bozeman Area Community Foundation

The first year of our program empowered 10 area students to disburse grants totaling $10,000 to projects affecting youth in the community. (Check out nationwide youth funding at the youthgiving.org funding map!) One of our most impactful grants in this first year was to the local HRDC Youth Transitional Home. This program supports youth ages 16-21 to get back on their feet and recover after being homeless. Unable to use traditional housing supports without the presence of their parent or guardian, it can be more difficult for these youth to recover from the circumstances that created their homeless situation in the first place. These grants will help support not only the home where these youths can find shelter, but also programs to help them build living skills, set goals they can work toward, recover from any trauma they’ve experienced, and more.

In our second year we’ve experienced hands-on visits to nonprofit programs like the Community Café, the HRDC Warming Center, and the Gallatin Valley Food Bank. We’ve also welcomed participants from four different schools and provided extra money for the youth committee to give away! This year Foundant’s contribution was also supported by local donors who wanted to see their dollars support area youth. By giving to the youth committee, these donors were able to support not only the ultimate beneficiares, but also empower the youth committee members in their pursuit as well. Talk about double bang for your charitable buck!

This year’s programming culminated at a site visit to BOB Bus, a 2017 grant recipient, where we were able to learn about their programming, pick toppings for our pizza, and ask that ever important question- how can we make the youth committee even better next year?

"I believe that being a part of the project has not only taught me valuable life lessons – it has given me a greater understanding of how my community functions and its nonprofit organizations. It has also empowered me to feel that I can make and that I am making a difference in the local area.”

Quaid Cey (16), Participant, Youth Giving Project

It’s amazing to see what our first two years of the Bozeman Youth Giving Project have accomplished for not only the grantees but the participants themselves; we look forward to continually refining the project each year to continue our local impact!