Youth Philanthropy Boards Allow Delaware Teens to Give Back

The Delaware Community Foundation celebrates 25 years of Youth Philanthropy Boards, a program allowing high school students to design grants and distribute funds to local nonprofits.

For a quarter of a century, the Delaware Community Foundation has empowered high school students to make a positive impact through Youth Philanthropy Boards.

With the Youth Philanthropy Board program, high school students have the opportunity to design grant programs. The students study issues in their neighborhoods and schools, identify a focus area for grantmaking, learn about philanthropy and effective grantmaking, solicit grant proposals, conduct site visits not nonprofit organizations and ultimately select recipients of the grants.

“I think it fair to say that very few organizations allow teenagers to make all the decisions about granting funds, but that’s exactly what the Delaware Community Foundation does through this program,” says Stuart Comstock-Gay, DCF President and CEO. “We are investing in the next generation of young people by teaching them how philanthropy works and providing them with the experience of making funding decisions. It is a “win-win-win” for the students, the organizations receiving grants and the community.”

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During the last 25 years, more than 700 students have served, representing nearly every high school in the state. The program has granted over $800,000 to 165 different organizations. At this year’s celebratory dinner, the organization celebrated 25 years.

Remarks were given by Delaware’s First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester through a video.

2024 Youth Philanthropy Board Grants

This school year, the DCF provided a total of $71,492 to the boards for distribution. The funds are made possible by gifts from community leaders like Rep. Blunt Rochester through the GLOW Fund that she established after the passing of her late husband, as well as The Atlantis Fund, The Burton Family, DuPont and the Mildred H. and Ray A. Thompson Fund.

Twenty-six nonprofit organizations throughout the state received grants of $1,000 to $5,000 from the boards.

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The Youth Philanthropy Board in New Castle County focused on youth mental health, awarding grants to nonprofits focused on the impacts of gun violence, food insecurity, learning disabilities and other forms of trauma for children and teens. Nonprofit organizations like Neighborhood House, Delaware Pride, and S.O.A.R. received grants.

Kent County’s Youth Philanthropy Board focused on the conservation of a stable mind, body and environment. Organizations that prioritized wellbeing of the individual and planet received grants. Nonprofits include Do Care Doula Foundation, Inc., S.O.A.R. and YWCA Delaware, Inc.

In Sussex County, the Youth Philanthropy Board awarded grants to organizations focused on land conservation and wellbeing. The Delaware Center for Inland Bays received the largest of these grants to increase student environmental literacy. YWCA Delaware, Inc., S.O.A.R., Milford Advocacy for the Homeless and more also received grants.

“(The) YPB program has been transformative for me with the connections I’ve established with nonprofits across the state and the feeling of empowered to make an impact that wasn’t previously available to me,” says Chloe Spinoza, a member of the Kent County YPB. “I’ve learned to collaborate with fellow board members as a team and I’ve made good friends along the way. I’ll carry the lessons and experiences from the YPB with me to both my professional and personal life journeys.”

Learn more about the program at delcf.org.

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