Philanthropy
6:34 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Youth Giving Summit Helps Teens Pay It Forward

Young philanthropists at the 2012 Youth Giving Summit.
Young philanthropists at the 2012 Youth Giving Summit.
Credit NC Youth Giving Network
This weekend in Greensboro, 200 high school students with gather for the Youth Giving Summit.  It's a statewide youth philanthropy event, and these teens will have a pool of $150,000 to distribute in their communities.  Eric Rowles is Director of the North Carolina Youth Giving Network.  Founded 8 years ago, Rowles says the program gives young people experience in paying forward their time, talent or treasure.   

"The choice of what they want to give goes back to what they think is most important," he says. " Some of our communities think hunger and poverty is most important, some of them might think domestic abuse, and sometimes the isolation and polarization that occurs within the school system."  

 

Rowles says the money comes from philanthropic foundations and individuals in communities across the state, but the kids themselves are also encouraged to pay it forward to the next set of young people going through the program, whether that's some of their birthday money or the change in their pocket.  

 

However, Rowles says it's not all about the money.  "We don't always ask young people or engage young people in what needs to be fixed, or sometimes when we do it's in a condescending way," he says. "But this is the real thing.  It's true authentic power that young people get a chance to have.  And when you give young people authentic power and you add in a whole lot of energy, you add in some excitement and throw in a couple slices of pizza, it's a good formula for success."

 

Teenagers from Jacksonville to Cherokee will attend the Youth Giving Summit Saturday in Greensboro. They'll learn strategies for identifying community needs, how to write requests for proposals and interview applicants.  They'll use these skills in the coming months as they determine how to distribute the money they've been endowed in their own communities.