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.

Teens Under the Big Sky

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

Sammie Holzwarth

Sammie Holzwarth has been with Foundant since 2011. Starting as an intern, she moved to the Client Success Manager (CSM) role after college. Sammie loved building relationships with clients, hearing about all of the great things the different foundations do, and the changing work from one client to another. After implementing more than 100 clients in Foundant GLM, Sammie took her product expertise to the sales side of the company. She now supports the sales team, keeping them up to date on new functionality in GLM, as well as doing the “heavy lifting” during the more technical demos. It's safe to say she truly knows the Foundant solutions inside and out! 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. As a Montana native, Sammie loves taking advantage of all the outdoor activities the Big Sky State has to offer – including skiing, golfing, and fishing.

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