Children and Youth Voice, Youth Involvement, Youth Engagement, Youth Organizing and Youth Participation

in Foundations and Grantmaking



Increasingly, when foundations, government programs, and innovative community organizations want creative solutions to difficult funding issues, they turn to young people for solutions. Youth are connected to their communities in an authentic and unhindered way that can help grantmakers understand issues better.


POINT TO PONDER:  "Teenagers are becoming vital players in the nonprofit world by starting their own charities, sitting on grant-making boards, raising money, volunteering, and leading efforts to solve problems in their neighborhoods, schools, and beyond..." from here.


RESOURCES: These are organizations that provide young people opportunities to develop community-mindedness, philanthropic behaviors, leadership skills, stewardship commitment and volunteer experiences.


Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) - YLI was one of the first organizations in the United States to successfully carry out large-scale grant making exclusively for youth-driven and youth-led funding projects. YLI's innovative approach takes youth out of an advisory capacity, giving them final decision-making authority. Our goal is to continue to transform youth grantmaking into a tool for community building for young people.  


Teen Trust - Teen Trust is a board of  20-25 high school students from throughout Black Hawk County, Iowa, that was created in 1994 to provide teens with a way to become active trustees of their community.  Teen Trust is the only foundation in Iowa administered by youth for the purpose of engaging in philanthropy. The program culminates with students awarding $10,000 from the Youth Interest Fund of the Community Foundation to non profit agencies throughout Black Hawk County. Students develop everything from the grant application to the selection criteria.


Youth Grants Board - A program that encourages, trains, and provides financial support to young people who are interested in improving their community, for themselves and their peers. YGB gives money (grants), to community-based projects created and run by groups of youth. All decisions about grants in the YGB program are also made by young people, members of the Youth Grant Board, who are trained grant-makers and who relate to the issues, ideas, and enthusiasm that youth grant-seekers have.


YouthPower - The Youth POWER program provides selective opportunities to students in Linn County to help fund community projects, improve the support of education and better the lives of youth. Coordinated by the Greater Cedar Rapids, Iowa Community Foundation


YouthInspire - YouthInspire originated in 2000, as a wholly youth-initiated, youth-run foundation, established through a generous Youth In Philanthropy grant from the Lincoln Community Foundation. Forty- four teens, who had completed either the Youth Leadership Lincoln or Youth Leadership Academy program, began to draft the framework of the nation's first foundation developed and operated completely by youth to fund youth efforts in a community. Coordinated by Leadership Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Northland Foundation Youth In Philanthropy Program - The KIDS PLUS Youth In Philanthropy Board, made up of 14 youth and three adults, distributes grant resources on a quarterly basis to projects that are planned and carried out by young people with the support of an adult advisor.


Youth Understanding Philanthropy Project - A research project of Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, Youth Understanding Philanthropy attempts to understand what motivates the philanthropic tradition from generation to generation.


Engaging Youth as Philanthropists - Writing a research paper? Looking for more supportive evidence? Visit the Foundation Center's site for more information and resources.


Center for Youth as Resources - Promotes community-based YAR programs that are governed by a board of youth and adults to provide grants to young people to design and carry out service projects. The youth and adult board members work in partnership to solicit and evaluate project proposals from local youth. The proposals must address a clear community needs.


Community Foundations with Youth Grant-making Boards

Michigan Community Foundations Youth Project

Richmond Community Foundation's Youth Philanthropy Project

George Foundation's Youth Philanthropy Grants

Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

City of Boulder's Youth Opportunities Program

Delaware Community Foundation's Youth in Philanthropy Program


The Freechild Project Section Investigating Youth Involvement


Freechild Project Links


Funds for Social Change Led By and With Young People The Freechild Project's webpage highlighting a variety of foundations, organizations, awards, and publications that detail how to find funding to support youth action.

Read Adam Fletcher's blog for the latest news, tools and ideas behind The Freechild Project!

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