Youth in Philanthropy Teen Gives Back

Like most teenage boys, Sam Slater loves baseball and hanging out with his friends. Unique to his age, he also has a strong passion for giving back to his community.

 

By: Bree Simmers

In 2011, as a sophomore at Framingham High School, Sam (pictured left with Youth in Philanthropy Coordinator, Jennifer Ubaldino) was looking for volunteer opportunities in his community. He noticed a flyer on his school bulletin board about a unique program called Youth in Philanthropy. After further research, Sam decided to apply to the program.

“I liked that it was more than just a one day volunteer opportunity,” said Sam. "Also, the fact that it involved learning about local nonprofit organizations and real money interested me. I knew I could make a difference in my community and that it would have a long-term impact.”

The Youth in Philanthropy program (YIP) is run by the Foundation for MetroWest. It engages high school students in community philanthropy by empowering them with the responsibility to research and award grants to nonprofit organizations.

Sam, along with 21 other high school students across MetroWest were accepted into the 2011-2012 YIP program (previously known as YAC), beginning a journey that would later influence the way that many of them would think about their future.

“I learned a lot about the needs in MetroWest," said Sam. "I had no idea how many people are homeless or living in poverty right in my own town. It had never dawned on me before that people in my school were struggling to meet basic needs.”

Sam also saw the impact this program had on his peers.

“During the grant evaluation process, my classmates and I had some great debates about where and how to distribute the money. Our debates showed how passionate we all were and that we understood how important these decisions were to people in our community.”

At the YIP grant ceremony in June of 2012, Sam met Yolanda Ortiz, executive director of TEMPO, a young adult resource center that addresses the urgent needs of youth during the critical transition into adulthood. Looking to continue his involvement with local nonprofit organizations, Sam began volunteering at TEMPO - helping them with everything from administrative duties such as answering phones and filing paperwork to supporting their outreach program by walking around downtown Framingham and handing out flyers.

“My work with TEMPO reinforced what I had learned during YIP to help young adults my age access the services and support they needed. It was striking to see so many people in dire need.”

Sam, with his new philanthropic outlook, noticed an article in the Globe while flipping through it one day. The story was about a new online philanthropy program called Giving with Purpose.

Giving with Purpose is funded by the Learning by Giving Foundation - a foundation created by Doris Buffett, older sister of Warren. The program seeks to advance the next generation’s understanding of philanthropy by providing the tools and resources to experience community impact.

Eager to expand upon his knowledge about philanthropic giving, Sam enrolled in the course and quickly found himself spending a good amount of his summer immersed in the program.

Program participants have the opportunity to submit a nonprofit for consideration to receive a grant. Sam worked with Ortiz to submit TEMPO as his nonprofit of choice.

TEMPO became one of 700 organizations competing for funding across the United States. To Sam’s surprise, he soon learned that they had been voted on to the semi-final round.

Shortly thereafter, he received the good news. TEMPO was chosen as a finalist and was one of 40 organizations to receive a grant.

“Honestly, I was shocked,” exclaims Sam. “I knew deep down that TEMPO deserved a grant as much as any other nonprofit, but there were so many worthy organizations competing for grant money.”

Now a senior in high school, Sam is taking what he has learned through his experiences with him as he thinks about the next phase of his life.

“Each of these three amazing experiences came together in the end. I started off learning about nonprofit organizations and the needs within my own community in YIP, then I granted money to and volunteered at TEMPO, and finally I reinforced my knowledge about philanthropy through the Learning by Giving Foundation while simultaneously winning money for TEMPO. I feel incredibly grateful to share this experience with the organization that started it all for me”.