Youth + Social Change through Grantmaking and Philanthropy

SoundOut Student Voice Team in Seattle

Youth in philanthropy identify funding, distribute grants, evaluate effectiveness, and conduct other parts of the process involved in grant-making. When communities create opportunities for youth as grantmakers and youth as philanthropists, they create opportunities for authentic, impassioned and powerful youth voice.

What would the daughters of the rich do with themselves if the poor ceased to exist? — Angela Carter

Ways Youth + Social Change Happens through Philanthropy and Grantmaking

Youth on Funding Committees — When young people work with adults to make decisions about funding choices affecting them and their communities, grantmaking can be more effective, engaging and empowering for everyone involved. Youth shouldn’t be limited to making decisions affecting them, either: Fully capable of thinking about the broader world beyond themselves, they should be engaged in funding activities throughout society.

Youth as Fundraisers — Raising funds to support causes they care about can empower and engage young people in countless ways. Teaching community connections, fostering positive perceptions of youth, and establishing meaningful roles for youth in grantmaking can all be outcomes. Adults benefit, too, when they establish trust, reliance and hope in young people.

Evaluating Grant Impacts — Grantmaking and philanthropy should not simply happen in a vacuum. Instead, organizations should assess and evaluate their giving, its impacts and the outcomes. When youth are actively involved as partners in evaluating grantmaking, communities and adults gain powerful allies and investors in today and the future.

Tools for Youth + Social Change through Grantmaking and Philanthropy

Training — Learning what grantmaking is, how it happens, who it affects and where it has the most effect is essential to engaging youth as grantmakers. Training young people in the basics of philanthropy and the practice of grantmaking is a beginning; facilitating opportunities for them to critically examine their assumptions, their impacts and the effects of grantmaking can transform participants and the world.

Opportunities — Philanthropy is not a subject that most young people know about or understand, because the vast majority of children and youth are seen as the passive recipients of adult-driven giving and not as potentially active partners. Creating opportunities for youth to become engaged in grantmaking is a key to changing the world today.

Inspiration — Without understanding the democratic necessity and importance of grantmaking, young people can be challenged to find meaning, purpose and passion for philanthropy. Becoming inspired can take a lot of forms; its essential that these aren’t focused on pitiful or event sympathetic feelings. Instead, engaging youth in seeing how they can establish reciprocal, empathetic understandings that move towards solidarity is key.

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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how Freechild Institute can support youth + social change in grantmaking in your community or organization, contact us.

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