The Youth Engagement in Philanthropy Program (YEP) is one-of-a-kind, overseen by the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley. Young adults from all over the Fox River Valley learn to raise money, distribute grants, and truly make a difference in this world. The best part, this select group of students run the entire show themselves.
<p>Bethany Anderson:<br />Hi, I'm Bethany, I'm 15 years old.<br /><br />Maximus Sambucetti:<br />I am Maximus and I am 18 years old.<br /><br />Bethany Anderson:<br />This is YEP.<br /><br />Maximus Sambucetti:<br />And we are Youth Helping.<br /><br />Bethany Anderson:<br />You.<br /><br />Cathy Schwieger:<br />Youth Engagement and Philanthropy is a group of local high school students that come together from all over the Fox Valley area. This year we have 30 students from 10 different high schools. They come together and work together on everything from service projects to fundraising, grant making. In the end, they give out $25,000 in grants to local agencies that also help youth. We call it our Youth Helping Youth Campaign and the students do a wonderful job.<br /><br />Bethany Anderson:<br />I feel like I'm making a difference, even though... Even my own sisters, my brother they're like, "I do nothing. I haven't done anything. And I'm like 21." It feels good because it feels like you're making an impact.<br /><br />Maximus Sambucetti:<br />I joined because I've always, as a younger kid, had ideas that I wanted to express, but I felt that you needed to be older to express those ideas. Seeing YEP, it gave me the opportunity to vocalize some of the stuff that I want to do and have that impact that I want to make in the world, whether it be for youth or just in the community in general.<br /><br />Cathy Schwieger:<br />Young people have very strong opinions about things that they're passionate about and things that they care about in the community. We want them to have a platform to be heard. They lead the whole organization, the whole YEP group. They decide what service projects they want to do. They decide where to give the grant making dollars. That was important to the community foundation because we really wanted to expose these kids to all different aspects of philanthropy.<br /><br />Bethany Anderson:<br />We raised $12,500 us and then the Dunham Fund matches it. In total, we raise 25,000 and we give it to all different districts and foundations, organizations in the Fox Valley area. Mostly for kids 18 and under. We to give it directly to the kids. We don't try to do it to buses or something like that. We try to do it so it impacts them directly.<br /><br />Speaker 4:<br />How important is it for you that you have a voice now?<br /><br />Maximus Sambucetti:<br />It's super important. It makes me feel more confident in myself, but also it helps reassure me that I am able to make a difference. Even at a younger age, do what I feel is right around the community.<br /><br />Cathy Schwieger:<br />Our hope is that they'll take this with them all through high school, college and beyond. Whether or not they want to work in the field of nonprofits, they may end up volunteering, we hope that they continue volunteering wherever they are. They may end up on a board. We've had other agencies offer for them to be board members, be on the board of directors. We're really just hoping that it'll have that ripple effect that it'll keep on growing and keep giving back.</p>