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Youth Philanthropy Under the Big Sky

As a member of the Foundant team I have had the privilege of working with many grantmaking organizations, and hearing about all the great work they do. But of all the initiatives, I have always been drawn to organizations that run youth philanthropy programs.

Youth philanthropy is a concept where grantmaking organizations give kids the ability to decide where a specific pool of grant money ends up. In 2015 I was able to attend multiple regional gatherings of youth grantmakers hosted by Youth Philanthropy Connect. It was after one of these regional gatherings that Foundant’s VP of Marketing and Client Success, Mark Larimer and I asked ourselves, ”Why don’t we have something like this in Bozeman?” So we set out to start the Youth Giving Project in our Montana headquarters.

We were lucky to partner with two other great organizations – Bozeman Youth Initiative and Bozeman Area Community Foundation – to get started. All three partners bring different experience and skills to the table that benefit our Youth Giving Project – a program designed to benefit youth in the Gallatin Valley. As described by the Bozeman Area Community Foundation:

Through a unique real-world approach, The Youth Giving Project provides local youth the knowledge to become leaders in our community by learning the importance of philanthropy and the needs that exist in our backyard.

During the program students develop valuable 21st century skills while forming their own Leadership Committee, volunteering, researching and visiting local nonprofit organizations, learning about local needs and distributing grants from the Community Foundation to benefit youth programs and ideas.

The Youth Giving Project has been up and running for the last three months. Currently, we have 10 kids from 8th grade to senior in high school meeting once a month. We are currently in the nitty gritty of the grantmaking process – coming up with a mission, funding guidelines, and soon opening the Request for Proposals (RFP). Our goal at this stage is to really get the kids excited about and understand the grantmaking process in its entirety.

Not only have our local partners been essential in helping us get this project up and running – so has our larger philanthropic network. This network, specifically Youth Philanthropy Connect, has been vital in connecting us to other organizations that were willing to share their resources, making it so we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. In one of our first meetings, we were able to bring in Luke Sturtz from Youth Philanthropy Connect, who talked about his experience as a seasoned youth philanthropist and how the program he is in works. In the future, we hope to leverage even more of the great work in these philanthropic spaces.

As this is our first venture into a youth philanthropy project, we anticipate many lessons along the way and we’ll make sure to share. Please stay tuned to hear about our experience as we move through the granting process and see our program continue to grow!  

Follow this link for grant guidelines, timeline, and our online application: Youth Giving Project Grant

About the Author

In her time with Foundant (since 2011) Sammie Holzwarth has taken on many roles in her path to becoming the Product Manager of Grants & Scholarships. Starting as an intern with Foundant’s Marketing Team, Sammie then moved into a Client Success Manager role - successfully implementing well over 150 clients. Her Foundant adventure next took her to the Sales Team as Foundant’s GLM/SLM Product Implementation Engineer. Her breadth of knowledge and extensive experience working with a plethora of clients and in varying roles at Foundant fuels her passion and excitement to continually improve GLM/SLM, and herself which she now brings to her role as the Product Manager for Grants and Scholarships! Sammie has a passion for youth philanthropy and has spearheaded the Youth Giving Project in Bozeman, MT as well as serving as an Exponent Philanthropy Next Gen Fellow for 2016. Montana holds a special place in Sammie’s heart as she is a born and raised Montanan; from rolling plains to mountain tops, this is where she feels most at home and takes every opportunity to soak in the outdoors. When traveling beyond the Big Sky State, Sammie loves anywhere with a vibrant culture, and delicious food. Connect with Sammie directly at or on twitter @SammieHolzwarth.

Profile Photo of Sammie Holzwarth