In Youth Grantmakers

Developing Youth Philanthropists: The Idyllwild Youth Grantmakers

Photo Credit: Barbara Reese

Idyllwild Youth Grantmakers. Photo by Barbara Reese

The Idyllwild Youth Grantmakers Committee is the newest project to which the Idyllwild Community Fund is devoting time and resources. It is an exciting initiative designed to develop young philanthropists, seeking to cultivate in them a lifelong commitment to giving and community service.

Current board member Trish Tuley, who along with Dianne Suechika, spearheaded the drive to implement the Idyllwild Youth Grantmakers Committee at Idyllwild Middle School, commented on why it is important to her:

“I was reviewing the annual report for the Community Foundation a couple years ago and saw the Youth Grantmakers and thought, ‘Wow, this is just what Idyllwild needs!’ It just seemed to me that the youth of Idyllwild were underserved with really not much happening for the middle and high school kids. Now with the program in place 6th through 8th grade students get to decide which local non-profit applicants should receive funding. They get to decide which programs best meet the needs of their own age group rather than adults making those decisions for them. Also, introducing them to the idea of philanthropy at a young age may affect their entire lives.”

Launched in 2009 by The Community Foundation for high school students in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the Youth Grantmaker program was offered to ICF in 2012 in a first of its kind pilot program for middle school students, 6th through 8th grade. By working with Idyllwild School administration and faculty, ICF board members Diane Suechika and Trish Tuley laid the groundwork to successfully implement the program locally.

Karen Lampert, Community Foundation Program Associate, coordinates the IYGC six month sessions and teaches the Idyllwild School volunteers about philanthropy and grant making with the invaluable support and assistance of IS teacher/sponsors George Companiott and Donna Mercer. This is the second year of the program and this year there are 18 highly committed students who spend 16 to 20 after school hours training in grant evaluation and grant making as well as an additional 10 hours of community service.

Karen describes the project:

“The Idyllwild Youth Grantmakers Committee (IYGC) was formed in February 2012 as a collaborative partnership between the Idyllwild Community Fund and The Community Foundation.  The IYGC is a unique philanthropic program that actively engages Idyllwild Middle School 6 through 8th grade students in a series of 8-10 rigorous hands-on learning sessions.  The sessions enable students who have volunteered for this project to develop leadership skills by learning about philanthropy;  expanding knowledge of their community through needs assessments and service-learning activities; as well as teaching them to meet community challenges by evaluating and making grants to local non-profits with core projects that address the concerns of youth.”

IYGC is part of The Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Initiative.   ‘The goal of our Youth Philanthropy Initiative is to teach young people about the tradition of philanthropy,” said Celia Cudiamat, the foundation’s Executive Vice President. “We want to increase their awareness about youth issueswithinandoutside the confines of their own neighborhood, improve their skills in conflict resolution and communications, increase their knowledge about grant making, local nonprofits and foundations, and teach them leadership and civic skills.  We hope the end result isthatstudentsdevelopanethicofserviceandlifelonginvolvement in their community.’

The mission of the Idyllwild Youth Grantmakers Committee is to cultivate and develop the spirit of philanthropy in young people, and to inspire a lifelong interest and commitment to serving others and addressing youth issues.

IYGC members are students who are able to exhibit tenacity, service and personal growth. Each individual Youth Grantmaker brings with them  unique backgrounds and perspectives that when combined with other members, create an atmosphere that welcomes diversity, ethical debates, and in the end forms true bonds of solidarity and friendship.

The Idyllwild Youth Grantmakers Committee meets after school once a month. IYGC members undergo training and education in the nonprofit sector, social change model of leadership development, skills building workshops on diversity, asset building of proactive skills and team building.  Members are taught how to review and analyze grant proposals. By reviewing grant proposals and allocating money from various donors, youth are able to experience the behind-the-scenes processes that help nonprofit organizations function. As part of their training, members interact with nonprofit agencies through engagement in site visits, presentations, and service.   IYGC members are exposed to many nonprofit agencies and learn from leaders in the Idyllwild community.  IYGC members learn how to lead, show empathy, and prioritize.

In 2012 IYGC awarded $3,713 in grant funding to five Idyllwild nonprofits to help meet the needs of youth in the community.