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Tips for Taking AFP into the Classroom

Resource Center - Foundation

Karen Shibiya, CFRE

(The Youth in Philanthropy Subcommittee (YIP) challenged members and chapters to start YIP activities on the local level. Below is the third in a series of stories and articles we hope will inspire you to begin your own programs in your community.)

Today’s high school students are tomorrow’s future business leaders, philanthropists, volunteers, ambassadors and more. In order for these students to be “ready for the real world,” our schools, businesses and communities must share accountability—not just in telling students what to expect after graduation, but creating opportunities for them to discover their passion through hands-on learning.

As the opportunities for real-world exploration both in and out of the classroom continues to grow, AFP Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) programs can play an integral role in lighting the spark in our next generation of fundraisers by creating partnerships with local high schools.

How does philanthropy fit into the classroom? Where do we even begin?

Whether you have a thriving YIP program or are considering ways your chapter can begin to serve local students, here are three simple strategies you can take to increase AFP partnerships at the school level.

1) Find an Advocate.

Good teachers can always find ways to connect curriculum material to relevant, real-world application. Social Studies and English teachers are particularly well-suited to explore and discuss topics of philanthropy and fundraising in their classrooms. (Grant-writing project anyone?)

To get started, take stock of your city’s local high schools. Do any of your AFP members know a teacher or principal who is passionate about philanthropy? Would they be willing to make an introduction on your behalf? Are any of your local high schools known for community-outreach projects?

Start small. Take time to reach out and build a relationship with just one or two teachers. Offer to come in and have conversations with their students around philanthropy and careers in fundraising. The AFP website has turn-key materials that are ready to go, making it even easier to engage with local youth. Talk with the teacher about the school’s culture of giving and any future events and/or projects that AFP members could plug into as mentors or “content experts.”

Having an advocate at the school level allows your YIP program to create value for local students by enhancing the current curriculum and its activities, not creating them from scratch. Your school advocate will be able help your YIP committee create a simple menu of ways for AFP members to easily plug in at the school level and share their expertise in relevant ways.

2) Think Outside the Box.

Traditional classroom walls are becoming increasingly more transparent as students take courses online, collaborate with others via social media platforms, and share content through cloud-based software. As your YIP committee works to engage students in the classroom, be sure to think of non-traditional ways that can provide value to students digitally.

Perhaps your chapter can offer AFP members the opportunity to engage with students via Skype or other social media platforms, or maybe set up a YIP Twitter chat to give time for students to “ask the expert” and have dialogue with professional fundraisers. Your chapter could even look into creating 1-2 minute video clips on various topics in fundraising that could be shared with local teachers or schools to supplement curriculum around philanthropy and/or career exploration. The sky’s the limit.

3) Support Opportunities for Students to Give Back.

Giving of one’s time, treasure, or talent is something every student should have the joy of experiencing. Our profession gives us the unique advantage of being surrounded by these experiences on a daily basis.

Have your YIP committee identify ways to engage local high school students as volunteers in AFP member organizations. Maybe it’s greeting attendees for one night at a community fundraiser? Or maybe it’s writing a simple grant application for an organization’s project? Or maybe it’s a group of students helping an organization brainstorm new ways to engage young audiences online.

Use your school advocate to help facilitate communication to high school students on ways to plug into AFP and experience the joy of giving back through the field of fundraising. While the opportunity doesn’t have to be time-intensive for the organization or require a defined skill set for the students, providing these types of opportunities are crucial for young learners to see and experience the benefits of working in our field.

Worried that you don’t have a teaching degree? Don’t be.

Great teachers love partnerships that enhance the curriculum and create connections for their students to learn. Having conversations with your school advocate about their students’ needs will drive the ideas, activities, and opportunities your YIP committee can create for its local AFP members to share their knowledge with students in meaningful ways.

So go on and reach out to your local high school! Your AFP chapter can play a part in shaping a young person’s career path and inspire a love of philanthropy in our next generation. It’s a win-win situation for all.

Kara Shibiya, CFRE, manages grant development and strategic partnerships for the Cincinnati Public Schools and can be reached at

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