Founded in 1997, for the last three years the Youth in Philanthropy Program has required students to agree to a serious time commitment with only a single absence and perform rigorous work…and it’s growing by leaps and bounds! Dee Koch, Director of Community Engagement for the George Foundation, says, “This year our 165 youth came from twenty-three different high schools and one home school. They were from different demographics, different backgrounds, and with different interests but all the youth came together to make a real difference for the non-profit organizations in our community!”
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“Working through YIP and with the various nonprofit organizations throughout Fort Bend, I realized that I, in collaboration with my many peers, could really make a difference in my community.”~YIP Volunteer
After orientation, students were formed into seven teams and the hard work began. At the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, seven buses arrived, each with two adult community volunteers on board…and off they went! Each year through the YIP program, team members contribute over 3,500 hours to our local nonprofit sector! Dee says, “The George Foundation initiated the project and underwrites all expenses so the students participate for free, donating their time and effort. These amazing students assisted twenty-eight nonprofits including the library, the Fort Bend County Women’s Center, museums, public parks…we wanted them to see the full range of non-profit opportunities in our community. And when our nonprofits saw how much a team of youth could accomplish, they had to dream bigger!”
“YIP has shown me what a true citizen and community member is capable of doing for their community. Also, what I am capable of doing to help others who need it.”~YIP Volunteer
YIP culminates in an annual luncheon on April 22, when they award student scholarships based on volunteerism. Dee says, “Our first year gave away $46,000, then $90,000 last year, and over $100,000 this year. Our youth have made such a large investment in our community, so our community comes together to make an investment in our youth.”
“Philanthropy and volunteerism go hand-in-hand,” adds Dee. “In March our students evaluate their volunteer experience based on metrics including how clear the nonprofit’s mission was and whether the tasks completed contributed to that mission. We use those evaluations to award grant money to the nonprofits…and the feedback helps them better prepare for the next generation of volunteers. Our companion program is Leaders in Excellence for NonProfits…it sells out every year!”
“Community service may be a noun, but I like to think of it as a verb. It is about connecting with others in order to build up a community…community service is actually the voice of the world.”~YIP Volunteer
With the help of the Fort Bend Forward, local corporations who offer scholarship support and community volunteers, Fort Bend County School Districts who provide campus liaisons, nonprofits, several local foundations, and the dedicated student volunteers of YIP, Fort Bend’s voice grows stronger every year!
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