Youth Philanthropy Boards Partner High School Students with Community Members in Need

Students learn how to operate similar to a nonprofit’s board of directors, awarding grant money, conducting site visits and soliciting applications.

Jeremy Jones, left, and Ky’mere Allen, right, enjoy the bicycles they received through the work of the Youth Philanthropy Board, which includes Jacob Sipala of Wilmington Christian School and Pamela Arango of Newark High. PHOTO BY RON DUBICKDuring its first dozen years, the Delaware Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Boards have awarded $245,000 in grants to 153 schools and nonprofits in the First State.

These youth boards—made up of students from public, independent and diocesan high schools—provide a forum for the students to study youth issues in their areas and learn about grantmaking and community service. Students are chosen by their principal or guidance counselor to serve one- or two-year terms.

“One of the fun parts is when we meet for the first time and they introduce themselves,” says Fred Sears, president and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation. “Every one of them is already involved with service projects in the community.”

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The Youth Philanthropy Boards are run like a nonprofit’s board of directors, so the students get to plan meetings, solicit applications, develop and award grants, and even conduct site visits. There are boards in each of the state’s three counties, so each board chooses its own grant recipients. The New Castle County board, made up of 26 students, will award $15,000 in grants this year. The maximum grant request is $2,500.

The New Castle County board is considering funding requests for college and career readiness programs for high school students with disabilities and for students who are preparing to age out of foster care. The board is also considering programs that provide support for and promote healthy lifestyles for pregnant teens and teen parents.

The Kent County board is considering programs that help local past and present military personnel and their families. The board in Sussex County is focusing on programs that work to stop childhood poverty, provide mentoring, and prevent substance abuse.

The New Castle County youth board selected its finalists in January and will conduct site visits in February and March. The grants will be awarded in May. (

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