Growing the Next Generation of Philanthropy

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), Youth Action Council (YAC), Youth Advisory Council (YAC)… while the names may differ, one central point we can agree upon: YACs are creating a pipeline for the next generation of social evangelists and change makers critically needed to solve the world’s most pressing issues. 

For more than 20 years (and thanks to W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s generous backing) YACs have existed at community foundations throughout the state, designed to empower young people to make a difference in their communities. Today, more than 1,500 young people serve on 86 youth grantmaking committees with endowment fund assets exceeding $62 million.

But what happens when YACkers grow to be young adults?

To answer this, hear from a recent YAC alum, Danielle LaJoie, as she shares in her own words her journey from a YAC member in Battle Creek, Michigan to a program assistant intern at the National Center for Family Philanthropy Program in Washington, D.C. - all while balancing school, social commitments and all else life as a sophomore in college brings.  

Written by Danielle LaJoie

My freshman year of high school I submitted an application for the Battle Creek Community Foundation Youth Alliance Committee (YAC), and with that one decision I started on a journey that would lead me across my city,  the state of Michigan, and eventually to Washington D.C. as I discovered my growing love of philanthropy.

My initial experience with YAC in Battle Creek was very similar to my peers across the state. At first I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but over time I began to learn about Youth Grantmaking, Youth Service, nonprofits, and Community Foundations in a deep and meaningful way. After attending my first Youth Grantmakers Summer Conference I knew that the growing field of Youth Philanthropy was where I needed to be, so I applied to and later joined the CMF Michigan Community Foundations Youth Project (MCFYP) Committee. My experience with MCFYP has been invaluable to me as a way to explore my passions, strengthen my knowledge of the field, network with different foundations across Michigan, and facilitate three incredibly empowering Youth Grantmaking Conferences.

Although my time serving on the MCFYP committee is coming to an end, there is another opportunity that allows me to keep my passion for philanthropy growing. Youth Philanthropy Connect (YPC) is a program of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation that serves as a national network of young philanthropists hailing from both community and family foundations, which I have had the pleasure of engaging with through their Leadership Team over the past year. From connecting with YPC I’ve met people from across the country that are passionate about similar things that I am and are doing work that I’m excited about. YPC also has invited me to present two sessions at their Midwest regional gathering being held in Indianapolis later this month. One explores social media as a tool for social change and telling your story, while the other I will be facilitating with two of my fellow MCFYP committee members about mapping a community’s needs.

It is because of these experiences that as a sophomore in college I am now living in Washington, D.C. working as the Program and Marketing Assistant for The National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP), a nonprofit resource center that aims to support Family Foundations and those who work with them. The connections I’ve made with philanthropists and leaders through MCFYP and YPC put me in touch with many other nonprofits and resource centers, but I was lucky enough to find an internship position with NCFP that plays to the skills I have learned while developing new ones that I haven’t yet tried. Although I have only just begun my work with NCFP I am already showing my Community Foundation and Youth Philanthropy roots in the projects I’ve undertaken such as working with Next Generation programming for Family Foundations and learning about the NCFP Community Foundations Initiative that looks at how Family and Community Foundations can work together. It seems as though I’ve come a long way from sitting in my first YAC meeting - which many youth could be doing this month - but I know that my philanthropic journey is just beginning and there is still so much more of this field for me to see.


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