Take teens from four different counties and organize them under the auspices of Illinois Prairie Community Foundation; enlist a donor that offers them $10,000 to give away annually to area not-for-profits; then charge them with setting up a grant cycle process. The result? Since 2013, Youth Engaged in Philanthropy (YEP) have explored the meaning of philanthropy, the needs in the community, and the impact of giving back. They have received and reviewed a total of 108 grant proposals and awarded a total of $50,000 to 33 applicants impacting 11,600 youth.
Youth Engaged in Philanthropy view first-hand the important role of the nonprofit sector and the impact that philanthropy creates in a vibrant, inclusive community. YEP members learn about community needs, manage a grant cycle, evaluate grant proposals, report progress to the Foundation Board of Directors, recruit additional members, develop marketing materials and grow an Endowment Fund. In doing so, YEP members hone communication and decision-making skills, experience the value of teamwork, and develop leadership qualities.
Sincere thanks to YEP's donors for their generous financial support - as well as the Board of Directors of Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, past Executive Director Myra Gordon (retired), present Executive Director Greg Meyer, and Associate Director of Programs Kathi Davis for their organizational support and encouragement - as this promising group of young leaders discover the power and the reward of making a difference in their communities!
"I am very grateful to have been involved in YEP for two years! I have enjoyed learning more about the community and philanthropy. Through YEP, I have been able to make an impact in the community as a high school student while also improving my leadership and decision-making skills. One of my favorite memories is when our group volunteered at the West Bloomington Active Garden because it was exciting to see the impact of our donation! I am also thankful for YEP's wonderful mentors who are always there to help and give advice. I have had fun getting to know so many great students from other schools and have made many new friends during my two years in YEP!"
- Cheyenne Petersen (2-year veteran)
"I will never doubt my ability to make a difference. I have seen firsthand how great an impact we can have, how we each have something important to offer."
-Megan Helms ( Founding Member)
"Youth Engaged in Philanthropy has had a huge impact on my life ever since I joined 5 years ago. Over the past 5 years and as one of the founding members, I have had the unique opportunity to watch YEP grow and develop since its inception in 2013. I have seen members and mentors alike come and go, and with them they brought their different strengths and personalities that have made YEP what it is today. Since joining YEP, I have had the chance to grow and develop, starting from what was once a once quiet and shy kid about yay high who would never speak in front of more than 4 people, to this person that I am today. Because of YEP, I have had the opportunity to do things that I once thought impossible for people my age. Such things like reviewing grant applications and helping to plan events, and through all of this I have learned and developed many necessary life skills. Such as time management, and public speaking. I have learned that young people such can make a huge impact in our community. In our 5 years as an organization, we have donated 50,000 dollars and reached over 11 thousand youth. We did that and I am thankful to have taken a part in all of that. I am looking forward to what the future holds and seeing what our younger members are going to accomplish."
– Justin Bean (Founding Member and 5-year veteran)
Below is a interview with WJBC with two YEP Members, click to listen and learn more about YEP!