Over the past eighteen years, the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) has grown into an international multi-award-winning social service program that has directed over $17 million in grants to charities across Canada, the United Kingdom, and New York City, 100% through the choices of over 500,000 informed and empowered secondary students. Through Friends Seminary’s partnership with YPI over the past ten years, students have connected to 90 NYC nonprofits and have awarded $50,000 in grants to winning organizations.
Recently Friends Seminary Grade 9 students participated in the final round of the YPI grant presentations. This is the culmination of a semester-long service learning initiative in the ninth grade history curriculum in which student teams research social issues within NYC and connect with nonprofits whose mission and programs aim to address the challenges these issues raise.
Students learned how to use the organizations’ 990s and annual reports for key information. They conducted site visits and interviewed staff, donors, and clients served by the organization to gain further insights. Some students spent time as volunteers with their nonprofit of choice in order to deepen their own empathy and understanding of how these issues impact the community. Through their YPI presentations, each of the twenty teams shared what they have learned about the role the philanthropic sector plays in addressing specific needs and advocated that their organization receive grant funding. A panel of judges, as well as peer feedback received through an online rubric, help determine the final round’s grant recipients.
One student reflected, “Through YPI, we were able to connect with people and organizations that are on the front lines of addressing real social issues in our city. Through the research project, interviews, and site visits, I’ve gained a better understanding of the importance of philanthropy in helping bring about a world that ought to be. My interactions with the staff of the nonprofit that my team represented has strengthened my own personal commitment to service.”
This year, Edible Schoolyard NYC
, represented by the student team of Julian ‘23, Deborah ‘23, Benjamin ‘23, and Carmen ‘23, was awarded the YPI grant of $5,000. The students’ presentation demonstrated Edible Schoolyard's mission to transform children’s relationship with food through hands-on cooking and gardening education in partner public schools. Students reported that their initial research around the issue of food deserts along with their analysis of impact through the organization’s 990s and annual reports was brought to life during their interview and site visit.
Two secondary prizes were also awarded. A $1,000 grant funded by the Friends Seminary Parent Association was awarded to Ahron ‘23, Amirah ‘23, Bella ‘23, and Ruby ‘23 for their presentation of Green City Force
. Grant judges remarked about the passion these students had in their representation of the nonprofit: “It was clear that their engagement with staff and community really impacted them. They wanted to convey the good work of GCF.”
Another grant award for $1,000, funded by the Friends Seminary administration, was divided evenly across the remaining four student finalist teams and their representative nonprofits. See the list below.
Abigail ‘23, Ada ‘23, and Zoe ‘23
Annie ‘23, Annika ‘23, Jack ‘23, and Julian ‘23
Theodora ‘23, Miles ‘23, Thomas ‘23, and Ivory ‘23
Romeo ‘23, Liam ‘23, Aaira ‘23, and Charlotte ‘23
To learn more about this initiative, contact Leitzel Schoen
, Dean of Co-Curricular Programs at Friends Seminary.