Friday, 03 June 2016 08:00

Brooks-area students have generous contribution to the Youth in Philanthropy program

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A program which allows southeast Alberta high school students to oversee the allocation of a combined total of more than $10,000 in funding will be released June 7.

According to the its website, the Community Foundation of Medicine Hat and Southeastern Alberta’s (CFSEA) Youth in Philanthropy (YiP) program allows participating high schools to form student-led committees which oversees the allocation of $12,250 in total grants to local charitable organizations.
Two high schools within the Grasslands School Division, which is based in Brooks, are participating in this program.
The school-based model allows the program to reach youth from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Many schools run the program as an extra-curricular activity that is open to any student, regardless of academic achievement or participation in other school programs.
On June 7, this year’s student groups (one from Bassano and one from Brooks Composite High School) will be making presentations to the CFSEA about their decision-making process and presenting their respective $3,000 cheques (from that $12,500 total) to the charities.
 Crystal Hershey, Grasslands Public Schools literacy co-ordinator, but who is also the co-ordinator of the YiP program for the Newell district and brings the group together and liaise with the Community Foundation, says this year’s Grasslands participants are excited. She has been involved with the YiP group for the past four years.
“Every year, the students get to present the cheque directly to the charity and students from past years have stopped me in the community to tell me about how much they love the program as well as how great it was to put on their resumé as employers always ask about their YiP experience,” explains Hershey. “We’ve also had students come back to the program the following year until they graduate.”
The best part about the program is the schools decide how the program will run, how many members it will have and who will be involved.
The students are broken into groups so as to talk to more people.
“The students don’t raise the money. The program this year was run over a short period of time (eight weeks) due to a change in staffing at the Community Foundation,” explains Hershey. “In some years, we’ve invited guest speakers who work directly with granting money, such as the Community Investment team from Cenovus Energy Inc. so that they can share their processes and students can see that there are employment opportunities in areas such as philanthropy.
“Each group visited three charities for their site visits and can grant money to all or one or any combination as they should choose based on their findings.”
The program was developed from the highly-successful YiP program at the Winnipeg Foundation.
Hershey likes this program as there are a lot of benefits including watching philanthropy in action, and building teamwork and leadership skills gained from working together.
“Initially, the students think it will be easy to giveaway money until they see how all of the charities need it and how each student has a different background and perspective on what’s important to them,” explains Hershey.
“They are mandated to follow their chosen focus area that they decide through consensus as a group and this year’s group chose ‘Health and Wellness’. Sometimes the connections that the students make with the charities has also helped them to build lasting relationships through volunteering, etc. The students learn that philanthropy is different than simply donating money.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor

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