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AFP Chapter Spotlight – Southeastern Wisconsin

August 14, 2012

Lead to Change

The youth of Lead2Change review the nominations received each year for the Philanthropic Youth of Today award and select the winners, who are recognized at the NPD luncheon in November.

The words “inclusion” and “diversity” are often used to refer exclusively to the myriad racial and ethnic populations present in our communities, but for the AFP-Southeastern Wisconsin chapter these terms have been expanded to also encompass other diversities such as geography, gender and age. The creation of a “Philanthropic Youth of Today” award was one way the AFP Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter decided to reach out to youth in our community.

The Philanthropic Youth of Today award was created over the course of a year through a process that other AFP chapters may easily replicate. First, the chapter created a Youth in Philanthropy position on the board, reporting to the vice president of membership and diversity. This board member was charged with finding ways to incorporate youth into the chapter’s activities.

Next the chapter created a new youth award at its National Philanthropy Day event. A local youth group, Lead2Change Inc. in Milwaukee, was chosen to be the first winner of the chapter’s philanthropic youth award because it is governed by young people ages 13 to 18 and one of its primary activities is providing grant dollars for youth-led community service projects. The agency offers grants ranging from $50 to $5,000 through three grant programs. To date, total Lead2Change grant programs have disbursed slightly more than $570,000 to youth groups that are empowering young people as they engage in and lead service projects.

The third step in the process was forming a partnership between Lead2Change and the AFP Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter. For a year the youth of Lead2Change further developed the criteria for the award. In fact, they changed the name of the award from “Youth in Philanthropy” to “Philanthropic Youth of Today.” The award recognizes a young person or group of young people who have made a significant difference in Southeastern Wisconsin through philanthropic leadership in the last year.

In addition, the youth of Lead2Change review the nominations received each year for the award and select the winners who are acknowledged during the National Philanthropy Day luncheon each November. What do the Lead2Change youth look for in the nominees?

  • Philanthropic activity must have taken place when the nominee(s) is/are between the ages of 12 and 24, and within one year of nomination.
  • The majority of members of groups nominated must be youth.
  • Philanthropic activity must be led and implemented by a young person or youth group.
  • Activity must demonstrate leadership, dedication, service and creativity.
  • An account of the philanthropic activity completed must be available. A non-family member must be able to vouch for the accomplishment of the youth.

Executive Director Dionne Shaw has been with Lead2Change from its founding in 1996 and talks about the organization’s role in promoting philanthropy among young people in the greater Milwaukee area and how its role also promotes the goals of AFP.

Q. How did the Lead2Change youth decide on the criteria for the Philanthropic Youth of Today award?

A. The AFP Southeastern Wisconsin board member we were working with, Rita Flores Wiskowski, came to one of our meetings and talked with the youth about fundraising and philanthropy. Rita provided examples of the nomination criteria for the existing AFP awards and then our youth created the new criteria for the youth award. The kids were very concerned that whoever was recognized should be an example to other youth. Also, they wanted to be sure the award recognized not just financial contributions, but also contributions of time.

Q. Lead2Change is making a positive community impact. What effect does it have on the youth as individuals and their chances of choosing careers in the nonprofit and philanthropic fields?

A. Lead2Change acts as a platform for each young person to get engaged with their community in significant ways. After their involvement ends, many will go on to work with the nonprofits they worked with during their Lead2Change years, and many others also will return and volunteer their time with Lead2Change as adult mentors and leaders. Lead2Change youth are not only positively affecting the community now but are also becoming strong voices and leaders for the future.

Q. Working with the youth in Lead2Change, what makes you most proud?

A. I’m proud that Lead2Change is promoting the future of youth in philanthropy. I’m proud of the hard work of the youth. And they put an incredible amount of time, effort and meaningful discussions in reviewing the applications. It is evident that they are knowledgeable and caring about the issues in our community to make it a better place to live. The youth have put their knowledge of the community and their enthusiasm for philanthropy into the work they are doing for AFP’s youth award, and watching this process makes me very proud of them and this organization.

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