Photo Credit: YouthBank

Young people have tremendous potential. They have a huge capacity to listen, understand, and make tough decisions, which results in great personal growth and could ultimately lead to great change in a community. YouthBank, a youth-driven philanthropy program, capitalizes on all of this untapped potential, putting it towards improving communities and building smart and strong leaders for the future.

YouthBank, in its simplest terms, is a youth-led philanthropy program that has many different chapters throughout Europe. Each team consists of a group of young people (usually aged 14-20) who are completely in control of the operations of the group, with only support and advice being provided by adults. This translates to the young people deciding on the grants and how the money should be allocated and what needs should be addressed within their respective communities. Is it practical and effective?

Yes, it is and here’s why. YouthBank approaches the needs of the community through the eyes of youth; oftentimes, it is the younger people that are affected by any community changes, so it only makes sense to involve these younger people directly in the decision-making process as they know the focus areas best. In addition to being an effective tool for community change, YouthBank is also great for engaging these younger people more actively in their community and teaches them how to work together and more constructively when it comes to helping others.

Perhaps the best quality about YouthBank is that is shapes these people as effective and strong leaders for the future, as participating in a YouthBank program helps personal growth and develops skills crucial for making a difference in the world; YouthBank also  promotes understanding and respect of differences (cultural, political, social). It also doesn’t hurt that the adult supervisors learn as well, as they grow with these younger people.

YouthBank is important, as it engages young people in philanthropy, making them agents of change in a world where the future lies solely on their generation. Here at the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP), we have a similar program that adheres to the same values as YouthBank: the Teen Grantmaking Initiative (TGI). TGI directly involves younger people (high school aged) in the grantmaking process and puts them in charge of addressing the needs they feel require the most attention. Like YouthBank, it holds the same thought that youth are the future of the community, so they should be directly involved in the decisions regarding community change. With the emergence of these youth-led programs, stronger leaders are being crafted, which in turn entails a brighter future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *