Youth in Philanthropy Alumna Looks to Make a Difference in Her Community

By: Bree Simmers

“I’ve always been passionate about community service and helping local nonprofits, but I wasn’t sure how to get involved,” said Katie McCann, Youth in Philanthropy alumna and Wellesley College student.

From an early age, McCann’s strong family values helped lead her to the path she is on today. As a freshman at Concord Academy, McCann was involved in Concord Academy’s Student in Action (CASA), where she organized and led community service projects and fundraisers. It was through CASA that she heard about the Foundation for MetroWest Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program.

YIP educates students about the importance of philanthropy and provides them with the knowledge and skills to continue this tradition. Throughout the program, students have the opportunity to run for leadership positions, fundraise for the program, visit local organizations, and award the Foundation for MetroWest’s youth development grants to nonprofits.

Looking to expand her involvement in the community, McCann applied to the program. “It sounded like a great way to learn more about the needs in our region, and how to best support local nonprofit organizations and the great work they are doing in our community.”

Her involvement with YIP continued straight through to high school graduation. During her junior year, she assumed a leadership role and by her senior year, she was helping coordinate and facilitate all aspects of the YIP program at Concord Academy.

“From participating in the program, I gained a much deeper understanding of the different social and community issues, and how nonprofits work to address those needs,” said McCann.

The site visits are what made the biggest impact on McCann. As part of the YIP program, students visit the nonprofit organizations that applied for funding. For McCann, these visits stand out to her to this day. “The site visits brought everything we had been reading on paper to life. I was able to really see these organizations in action and talk to people there. Having that direct contact made everything real for me, and impacted the way I now think about community needs and services.”

Shortly after arriving at Wellesley College, she joined Stronger Communities, Stronger Schools (SCSS), a student-run organization that partners with community organizations and Boston public schools to help create stronger communities and school systems. McCann was an integral part in growing SCSS’s participation by 400% and spent about three days a week helping to run the organization as Co-President, Site Leader, and Program Leader. Her experiences at SCSS formed the basis for her recent presentation at the renowned Ruhlman Conference at Wellesley College.

As a rising senior at Wellesley College majoring in Peace and Justice Studies, McCann is spending her summer conducting research on school and church partnerships in Boston with the Boston Education Collaborative through the Emmanuel Gospel Center.

Looking back, she attributes her passion for community involvement in part to her YIP experience. “YIP really helped me think about what I want to do with my life in a concrete way. It helped me in my leadership role at SCSS and it has helped me take a broader perspective on how I create change for the better.”

Click here to learn more about the Foundation for MetroWest Youth in Philanthropy program.