BY KAREN BOSSICK
Thirty students from Sun Valley Community School and Wood River High School got an exercise in philanthropy over the past several weeks as they gifted $10,000 to six nonprofit organizations in the Wood River Valley.
The students saw their impact doubled when the Youth Generosity Project announced it would match each student-allocated grant dollar for dollar, meaning that the nonprofits received $20,000 in all.
The students announced their selections Thursday night during a reception at the Sun Valley Museum of Art’s Hailey center. They reviewed grant requests from 16 Blaine County nonprofits and ultimately decided to fund:
$5,000 ($10,000 with the match)—The Alliance for legal services for immigrants
$1,500 ($3,000)—Mountain Rides for traffic learning gardens for four elementary schools
$1,000 ($2,000)—Flourish Foundation to fund wilderness/environmental stewardship trips for teens
$1,000 ($2,000)—Friends of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center to produce an avalanche awareness video for Spanish-speaking workers
$750 ($1,500)—Kids Mountain Fund for ski equipment lease packages for youth in the Rotarippers program
$750 ($1,500)—Wood River Land Trust to plant edible pollinator shrubs at the Colorado Gulch Preserve orchard.
The Youth Generosity Project is a nonprofit started four years ago that awards grants to projects that are spearheaded by or directly benefit local youth. It’s spearheaded by the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, which started as WOW-Students 10 years ago.
It’s designed to teach local students in ninth through 12th grades about generosity and philanthropy.
Students meet weekly for six to eight weeks to identify community problems and needs and evaluate grant applications under the guidance of the Youth Generosity Project staff and a teacher at each participating school. They also meet with finalists, discussing the potential impact of each grant on the community. They then determine who receives grants.
The Youth Philanthropy Initiative elected to double the grants awarded to the six nonprofits this year by reallocating monies that were going unused because two groups who usually participated did not participate this year.
One Wood River High School student said the program gives her a feeling of control over what’s going on in her community since she and her peers get to choose the non-profits they wish to give money to.
“Just the process leading up to it is very empowering,” she said. “Having adults come to us and have to sit in front of 10-plus high school students who ask them questions about why they serve the money is empowering.”
Another Wood River High School student said the Youth Philanthropy Initiative offers students a new point of view: “When students choose what nonprofit the money goes to, we aim to choose something that will help someone or something that will have a long-lasting effect for our future generations.”
“I love learning about the organizations because now I can volunteer my time and make an additional impact,” added a Sun Valley Community School student.
To date, a hundred teens have learned about generosity and philanthropy through the project as they’ve awarded $60,000 to nonprofits over four years. The funds are made possible through contributions from individual donors and the Wood River Foundation.
“I was so impressed with their thoughtfulness in reviewing the grants and making the very hard decisions about how to spend the money,” said Louise Stumpf. “They learned about nonprofits and they learned about generosity.”
Want to know more? Visit www.youthgenerosity.org