The magic of youth giving

2009 Youth Giving Summit
2009 Youth Giving Summit

Eric Rowles

It’s not an illusion. Nor is it a slight of hand. Rather, there is a real magic that is occurring throughout North Carolina. And it’s being carried out by youth givers with an incredible force.

On October 17th, over 200 youth philanthropists representing 25 different counties throughout North Carolina took part in the 2009 Youth Giving Summit as part of the North Carolina Youth Giving Network.

Leading To Change hosted and facilitated the day-long convening that was co-sponsored by NCGives, Communities In Schools, American Express and EmbroidMe marketing.

The Summit included over 20 youth-lead and youth-focused workshops, a statewide strategic planning process for NC Communities In Schools, welcome presentations by 12 different community-based Youth Philanthropy programs, and a culminating celebration of youth philanthropists from throughout the state taking part in an alluring display of magic by world-renowned illusionist Dorian Richardson.

“Today is important because we’ve got to realize we are stronger united – and that we represent both the future and present faces of giving,” said one member of the Nash/Edgecombe County Teens In Philanthropy.

Bring together 200 high-school students, and you’re bound to be swept up by their energy and enthusiasm – even on a Saturday morning.

But what happens at “The Summit”… well, it takes the idea of youth power to a whole different level.

Youth philanthropists from Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Rutherfordton, Shelby, Mocksville, Henderson, RockyMount, Wilkesboro, and Morganton all lead workshops designed to teach their peers the ins and outs of facilitating community change.

When young people are mentoring their peers on “how to get volunteers to serve in the community,” “how to work with the media,” or “how to be more than a banker,” a powerful exchange of expertise, talent and 21st century application takes place.

The lessons are real. The giving is real. And this year, over 300 young North Carolinians in twelve different sites will have access to over $75,000 to improve their communities.

The 2009 Youth Giving Summit was more than just a high-energy and inspirational convening of 200 youth and adult philanthropists.

It was also a celebration of the power of young people and the communities that have invested in their collective time, talent and treasures.

In many ways, the 2009 Youth Giving Summit was merely a catalyst to maintain the momentum, propel the passion, and showcase the magic that is taking place throughout North Carolina.

Over the past five years, the North Carolina Youth Giving Network has engaged over 900 high-school students in giving over 70,000 hours of service and granting over $230,000 in their communities.

From the establishment of a dating-violence prevention hotline to the funding of a youth operated senior-citizen meals-on-wheels program, young people in North Carolina are learning firsthand of the importance of their giving – of time, talent and treasure.

Are you watching…closely?  Believe what you see, as the magic of giving is taking place before our very eyes!

Eric Rowles is president of Leading to Change, a consultancy that operates the North Carolina Youth Giving Network in partnership with NCGives. The network can be found online at

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