This past summer, the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) sent Ahmad Haidar-Ahmad, a former TGI (Teen Grantmaking Initiative) member to Chicago to attend a youth community philanthropy global summit organized by the Council on Foundations and the Council of Michigan Foundations, with support from the C. S. Mott Foundation.The summit brought together youth philanthropy practitioners from various countries to gain a broader understanding of innovative approaches in youth philanthropy, helping to build a link between these change-makers. The summit explored various philanthropic approaches and strategies used around the world, delving into those that are effective and those that are not, eventually working towards future goals. Below is Ahmad’s account of the summit, providing his own thoughts and opinions on the event:


The Chicago trip was an incredible experience and it fueled the passion I already possessed for philanthropy. During the conference, I had the pleasure of sitting down and executing my ideas, expressing my vision and presenting projects that I had already completed with CAAP.

What I really enjoyed was that many youth representatives came from a variety of countries, all looking to expand and network with one another. The reason why I enjoyed this experience was because everyone was able to provide a different approach to a certain situation, which introduced a wider spectrum of tactics for organizations to use.

The idea of having this conference in Chicago should also not be overlooked. Gabriel, a youth representative from a nonprofit based in Brazil, was shocked when he came to Chicago. He was surprised when he saw many homeless people in intersections asking for change, shocked that even in America, where it is known to be rich and well developed, there was a homeless issue. By expressing his concern, Gabriel made me see through his eyes; I was able to feel the same shock he experienced. I saw that even cities like Chicago–rich with culture, full of beautifully crafted architecture and located in one of the most well established countries in the world–were capable of having challenges such as a large homeless population.

During the conference, I was able to connect with Gabriel from Brazil, Til from Germany, Katherine (a student from Notre Dame) and many others. I was extremely pleased to see that there were other young philanthropists out there who were as excited about social change as I was. It was wonderful witnessing the cooperation of many organizations from around the world; everyone in the room was motivated and bringing something to the table. Philanthropy did a beautiful thing during the conference: it brought the world together.

Ahmad’s account of the summit reveals just how important it is to involve youth in the community. By attending the event, Ahmad was exposed to many different cultures and new ideas in philanthropy, but, most importantly, he was able to see certain issues are not exclusive to one country or region; rather, they are shared across borders. Such things show younger people that in order to bring change and solve an issue they must work together and combine their creative minds.

Events like the summit in Chicago help to spur an interest in philanthropy for youth, which can eventually lead to increased knowledge and development of crucial skills. This in turn would create strong leaders for the future, which is ideal for bringing about meaningful social change. Look no further than YouthBank, as they embody this very belief.

More effort needs to be made to encourage youth to participate in philanthropy, as they are the seeds of change needed to make the community grow. And that all starts with events like the summit and with teens like Ahmad.

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