Igniting the Spark next gen case study: Foundation for Metrowest


Youth Program Name: Youth in Philanthropy

Website:  www.foundationformetrowest.org

Located in: Natick, Massachusetts

Who is Involved:

  • Youth from the MetroWest Boston communities
  • Led and managed by staff from the Foundation for MetroWest

Youth Programming History and Scope:

The Foundation for MetroWest has been committed to educating the next generation of community leaders through the Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program since 1997. In that time, over 900 youth from MetroWest communities have funded nearly $700,000 in grants that support youth.

This experiential program is offered across 15 to 20 sessions in both schools and community groups in the MetroWest Boston communities. Throughout YIP, youth learn about the needs in the MetroWest communities, how nonprofit organizations work, and the importance of giving back to the community. YIP brings together groups of 15 high school age students to have a voice in making a real impact in the communities in which they live. These youth read grant proposals from area nonprofit organizations serving children and youth and fundraise to support these programs they select as a group.

Participants are empowered through the program to form their own Board through an election by their peers. They learn to lead meetings and speak in front of a group about programs that they wish to support. Site visits to select nonprofit organizations are also an integral part of the experience before the youth make a collective decision about which grants they wish to fund. Youth present their recommendations of grants to members of the Foundation’s board and grant distribution committee for their approval. A culminating award presentation ceremony brings together the youth and nonprofit organizations to celebrate the grants. YIP has been launched in 17 implementations sites including schools, organizations, and the community.  

New Youth Engagement Strategy:

In the summer of 2014, the Foundation for MetroWest will launch a pilot Summer Institute for Youth Leadership. The two-day workshop will educate youth about grantmaking and philanthropy education and include guest speakers at each session to teach a variety of life skills.

Participant Perspectives

Youth Perspectives:

The two years I spent in YIP really taught me a lot about my place in society as well as important skills for serving on a board and making important decisions that I have brought with me to college and have helped me out numerous times.

I’ve learned through the program not only about what it takes to identify an effective organization that needs help, but also about what it takes to be truly helpful. It’s been an interesting, illuminating, and gratifying experience, and it feels good to help real people in a meaningful way.

The philanthropy experience was really a special experience for me and I’ll be able to carry it with me for the rest of my life. I guess I could say that I found a way to give meaning to my life through this experience, which has inspired my desire to study business and run a corporation and be involved in philanthropy later in life.

YIP opens up your eyes to a world or people who live right near you. It teaches you how to look at organizations with a critical eye and discern how effective it is. YIP also taught me how to collaborate with others and voice my opinions. Since I didn’t know anyone in the program, I was reserved with my opinions but as we bonded over our love for service I was incline to share them.

Parent Perspective:

There are few opportunities for our children to learn about philanthropy while also gaining leadership talent. I know for our son, who has done quite a bit in the way of community service, it opened his eyes to needs beyond his community and to experience the satisfaction of giving. The research and visits really hit home and painted a vivid picture of how fortunate we are.

School Perspective:

Your program is wonderful in so many ways. I was most struck by the awareness the students had gained of the depth of need in their own backyards. So many adults don’t have an understanding of the vast economical disparity represented in the MetroWest communities. Now, because of your program, these students have that realization. Terrific program. I enjoyed it immensely. -School Advocate

For more information, contact Jennifer Ubaldino at jubaldino@foundationformetrowest.org.

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