A growing number of nonprofits across the country are involving teenagers in the grant-making process, the Associated Press reported on June 26. The Council of Michigan Foundations estimates there are 300 youth grant-making programs nationwide. There are a variety of motives behind these efforts. Some charities want a younger perspective, some hope to create leaders for the next generation of philanthropists. The details of the programs vary, but most share two key principles: First, they allow teens a direct say in deciding where charitable money should go. Second, they try to recruit students from a variety of backgrounds, including those who aren’t school leaders. The Community Foundation of Silicon Valley in California recruits students from East Palo Alto and East San Jose, which border some of the country’s most affluent neightborhoods. This year the foundation’s Youth in Philanthropy committee gave away $20,000 – about 15 percent of which was raised by the students themselves – to student-run projects. “The whole concept of philanthropy is pretty new to most of them,” adviser Julie Dean told AP. “They’re tough grant-makers. By the time they get to the end, theyre asking really good questions about groups’ motivations, grilling them on their budget. They learn a lot of critical thinking skills.”
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