The Importance of Connecting Youth to Philanthropy
Mar 17, 2021
By Contributing Editor: Brynne Bartiromo
Marketing & Communication Associate, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation
When you open doors to young people to be part of philanthropy, they are encouraged to become volunteers, nonprofit leaders, and to make an investment in the future of their communities. As a young professional working in the philanthropic sector, I often find myself reflecting on how I came to become a team member of the Community Foundation. I think back to the youth philanthropy programs I participated in as a young adult that helped me discover my importance in my community. These programs gave me a channel to share my voice. They allowed and encouraged me to be a committed, caring contributor to the world around me.
So, what can be done to help connect more young people to philanthropy? My perspective is, in order to keep young people engaged, it is crucial to innovate, create, and nurture opportunities for them. Successful youth philanthropy programs recognize that young people understand the world around them and are capable of making decisions that help their communities thrive .
Younger generations, like Generation Z (ages 18-24), have already generally proven to be a force to be reckoned with. QGiv, a nonprofit-focused organization, shared insights from their latest Generational Giving Report. It showed that 1/3 of their survey respondents in this age group (32.5%) cited seeing their philanthropic support as part of their legacy .
Categorizing myself as a member of the youth community, it is even more encouraging to be part of an organization that acknowledges how important the work of youth can be in philanthropy. Programs like Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Thrive by 25 Initiative helps to engage young people and provide them the tools and resources to become leaders of change in their communities. Thrive helps open the doors to youth and connects them to opportunities that will amplify their voices in our region and beyond.
“Our goal is to make sure young people have the right preparation and skills to help them grow so that they can feel confident in themselves and change the course of their future.”
– Janeene Freeman, Director of Education and Youth Development at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.
In a recent virtual forum, hosted by Thrive, high school-aged participants were able to connect and share thoughts about shaping their school communities. Through this experience, young participants nurtured their own development while sharing their unique points of view. A community-focused mindset prepares young people for a lifetime of giving and service. Although this event was weeks ago, I still find myself reflecting back on a statement Flor had shared during the event. She was one of the student panelists who has been speaking up and speaking out for change in her town.
“Sometimes people don’t believe in the voice of the youth. Just stand behind us. So we know we have the support of adults.”
There is a lot to learn from youth as well. They revitalize the community with fresh ideas and energy. Young people are unafraid to take on topics about which they are passionate, often including complex challenges of social justice, equity, poverty, and beyond . They are helping create a more equitable society, and a stronger economic future for everyone. We all have an opportunity to lift up our community by supporting young adults, helping to improve the present, and ensuring a healthy, secure future for all.
Being exposed to philanthropy at a young age helped me understand the importance of giving back, learning about my community’s needs, and how my skills could help grow and strengthen the place I call home. When young people are trusted and valued as an important community resource, they rise to the occasion and serve with pride.
Marketing & Communications Associate
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation