Youth Philanthropy: Helping the community

Every first and third Thursday of the month, a few dedicated high schoolers take two hours off from their busy lives to meet and discuss ways they can help improve the Story County community. “Story County Youth Philanthropists (SCYP) started sometime in September 2009, so it’s the first year,” junior Anima Ghimire said. “It’s supposed to be people from Story County but right now it’s mostly people from Ames High.” “This is an organization of students that love to volunteer and have already given a lot of time and talent,” senior Kristina Johnson said. “Volunteering is all about the three T’s–Time, Treasure and Talent–but a lot of people our age don’t have a lot of money to give, so it’s really great to be able to be an organization where you have money to give out.” “I joined SCYP because it is a different side of volunteering,” junior Colin Ogilvie said. “SCYP is an opportunity to take part in the other side of volunteer activism. That of grants and money. The whole grant process and the concept of philanthropy were key reasons for why I decided to join.” The organization started with an initial $5000 given by the Story County Community Foundation. Faced with a sizable amount of money, the students spent the first couple meetings getting their priorities straight. “We talked about poverty and health stuff and the mentally ill,” Johnson said. “We also talked about social close-mindedness and prejudice. But when we talked about it we realized that homelessness comes from people being unemployed…Unemployment comes out of not having a high school education and so we wanted to work at the root…of the problem.” “We’re [going to focus] on how to better the lives of the family and youth,” junior Vinita Singh said. “Our motto is ‘helping others help others.’” The deadline for grants was Jan. 15, but organizations that are in need can start preparing early. The young philanthropists have received 24 grant proposals asking for a total amount of $21,000 and will likely be pretty busy for the next couple of weeks deciding which organizations deserve the money. With a little help from a facilitator, the group drew up its own grant application, complete with a rubric and essay requirement. “We’ve [had to learn] how to write a grant application, so like an application for other people to apply for grants,” Johnson said. “We’ve also learned how to write a grant because we’ve also had to apply for more money.” Although the maximum amount they can give out at a time is $1000, $5000 can only last so long. Thus far they have successfully applied for a Kiwanis grant for $300 and are looking to apply for a Pepsi grant that gives out a total of $2 million a month to various organizations. Grant-writing aside, the group has also acquired several other skills. “We’ve learned a lot about teamwork because we have a rotating facilitator,” Johnson said. “We decided in the beginning that we wouldn’t have one person be the facilitator, so this way we’re all sort of equal. We share an equal part on the team.” High schoolers interested in joining next year can find the entry application online at The SCYP is looking for people with leadership skills, volunteering experience and a desire to help other people. “As a high schooler you should be concerned and interested because this is your community,” Ogilvie said. “The skills you learn will serve you for a lifetime. It’s fun and a great time. Money makes the world go around. Philanthropy is what makes the world a better place.”