May 21, 2018

Youth in Philanthropy empowers teens to give back in a unique way

It’s not every day that the responsibility of managing thousands of dollars falls into the hands of students, but Foundation for MetroWest’s Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) is giving young people the opportunity to do just that.

Youth in Philanthropy, open to any high school student who attends school or lives in Wellesley, awards up to $10,000 in grants for nonprofit organizations in the MetroWest area. Although participants were selected in December, the program will not begin until January 12.

YIP will hold class every Monday night from January through April at the Wellesley Free Library. Participants will learn the criteria for an acceptable grant, along with other leadership skills. They will conduct a thorough survey of the grant proposals, including site visits of the locations where the grant could be awarded. While The Fund for Wellesley serves as a fiduciary sponsor for the grants, YIP also sets a goal of raising $1,000 dollars. It is up to the participants to determine how they will raise the money.

Foundation for MetroWest, YIP’s parent organization, has run the program in other towns throughout the Boston area for over fifteen years, graduating nearly 900 participants who have collectively awarded $700,000 in grants, making YIP one of the largest youth philanthropy organizations in the country.

Charlotte Clapham ’17 applied to YIP because of the opportunity it gives for students to participate in philanthropy in their town. “It is important for people our age to get involved and learn about how philanthropy really works rather than just watching it happen from a distance.”

The head of the Wellesley branch is Jennifer Ubaldino, who is the Youth in Philanthropy director and Center for Philanthropy Education Coordinator with and is helping to get the program started in Wellesley. Maura Renzella, is working with Ubaldino to learn about the program and how it runs in order to fulfill her role as Youth Commissioner in Wellesley.

Renzella is excited for the program to come to Wellesley, and for the impact YIP will have both in the community and on the students: “There are two, among many other, really big impacts for kids,” said Renzella. “The first is that it gives them a sense of community, the feeling they’ve really made a difference, and it also gives them a role in the community. It shows them how with their roles as youth, they can make decisions that make an impact”.

YIP is unique from other youth philanthropy organizations because it is giving students full control of important decisions that can spark tremendous change in their community. “It is really empowering these youth,” Renzella said.

(Olivia Gieger ’17, Arts Editor)

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