Philanthropy program involves youth in decisions
As a participant last year in Leadership Bexley, the Bexley High School leadership development program supported by the Bexley Education Foundation, I imagined myself applying and receiving a large foundation grant to build my own nonprofit community organization.
That dream was somewhat unrealistic, considering I didn't know anything about grant-making.
But my hopes of learning about philanthropy and grant-making came true when I joined a recently formed program focused on young people and philanthropy.
The Youth Philanthropy Program is funded by a new endowment at the BEF called the Charlene Morgan Emerging Leaders Endowment Fund. This fund was established in April 2011 by the BEF Board of Governors to honor the service of Ms. Morgan, the first BEF executive director, and her passion for the Leadership Bexley program.
Each year, a select group of Bexley High School students will have the opportunity to give away the interest from this endowment in grants -- up to $1,000 worth -- for projects that will enhance the learning environment or address critical needs at Bexley High School.
This year, our job is to seek out a promising project or projects that will meet these goals.
You might think this is a simple task, but there are many details to consider. We began with a conversation with a Bexley graduate: Dan Sharpe of the Columbus Foundation. He shared some insights about the grant-making process and the endless details that are part of that process.
After the meeting, our members divided into two groups based on their interests. One group is in charge of promotion and the other is responsible for creating the grant application and guidelines.
Because I have hosted charity events and concerts for high school students to combat human trafficking in Ohio, I chose to participate in the promotions group. Our job is to make sure all teachers and club leaders are aware of this new grant opportunity.
During the promotion process, it occurred to me that some of my teachers may apply for grants and I might have to disappoint them -- since we can't promise grants for every project.
This anxiety is something we discussed in Leadership Bexley: The decisions we make will not satisfy everybody.
We learned that we must make tough choices and focus on the positive outcomes of those decisions.
Since our committee will work together as a group, we are confident the right decisions will emerge as we collaborate with each other.
My experiences in both Leadership Bexley and the Youth Philanthropy Program have made me appreciate the opportunities I have been given to play a role in making an investment in our education. I hope that this program will make an everlasting impact on the students at Bexley High School.
Jasper Lau is a Bexley High School junior.