Summer Fun and Inspiration with Allow Good

By: Julian
Julian participated in our Summer Summit 2017 youth program. He is an incoming sophomore at Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago. 

I wasn’t sure how I was going to spend the early part of my summer. My mother later told me about a week-long summer program though Allow Good. What sparked my interest in it was the fact that this program focused on philanthropy. When I applied to the program, I shared my understanding of philanthropy at the time, but I felt an interest in learning more and I’m now glad I was able to. I made many friends, have had many great experiences, and I’ve gained new knowledge that I can use for my future, and to help others.

During the Summer Summit, I found many of the speeches given by the various panelists very interesting and thought-provoking--from their stories to their messages. The many activities we participated in provided more depth into the subject matter and showed us ways in which to apply what we learned. I especially enjoyed the brainstorming activity at Groupon.

Julian (left) presents an idea to his peers at the Groupon workshop. 

Julian (left) presents an idea to his peers at the Groupon workshop. 

Our final activity about making the organization, EducaFun, was one that stood out to me, for it was interesting to see how something you are passionate about can be the key idea for an organization aiding a social issue. Furthermore, it was exciting to see how multiple ideas could have such synergy so as to make one big organization. With the messages and activities the speakers delivered, I broadened my understanding of philanthropy and learned that it can be expressed in many unique ways. These ways can also incorporate what we’re passionate about, which makes it even more meaningful. These panels inspired me to just follow my passions, for it’ll make sense later.

The process of creating the social venture, EducaFun, was very engaging and involved many decisions. It first started as two separate ideas.  My partner and I had similar paths we wanted our organizations to go, so it was natural to merge our ideas. For my cause, I was inspired by the thought of exposing children to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), a subject I’m very passionate about. The subjects of math and science really intrigue me. My partner’s desire was to increase enthusiasm and academic results among inner city youth. From there, we incorporated aspects from both sides to create our nonprofit organization with income- generating activities. Presenting our organization at the end of the Summer Summit was an experience in public speaking that helped build my confidence.

The experiences I had at the Summer Summit will shape my future social endeavors, for I now know more about the meaning of philanthropy and the creative ways it can be put towards a common good.

I encourage any young person who is interested in learning about philanthropy, while having a fun and fulfilling summer experience, to participate in a future Summer Summit with Allow Good.  

Julian (right) and his project partner Jack present about their organization, EducaFun.

Julian (right) and his project partner Jack present about their organization, EducaFun.

Three Years Later...

By: Sonali
Sonali participated in our Summer Summit and Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy programs. A native Chicagoan, she is currently a student at Tulane University. 

The summer after my sophomore year in 2014, my father signed me up for a program called the Global Philanthropy Summit with an organization called Allow Good. I was reluctant to wake up early during my first week of summer to drive to Evanston in rush hour traffic, knowing no one or what I was going to do that week. Three years later, I am grateful for that week at Allow Good where I learned what the word philanthropy meant or that you did not have to be a millionaire to give to others because of three things-time, talent, and treasure. The vocabulary and knowledge I gained from that week felt much more valuable than anything I had learned in high school. In the spring of my junior year, I had the privilege of going through the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program, which was essential to helping me form what I may want to study beyond high school. When college applications rolled around that fall, I knew I needed to attend a school with focus on both public service and a degree focused on social good.

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Going into my second year at Tulane University this fall, I am majoring in Social Policy & Practice and Political Science, with minors in Management and Spanish. Tulane is also the number one school in the country for public service and I work for the Center for Public Service. Allow Good showed me at a formative age the importance of making change no matter what age you are. Further, it taught me lessons about philanthropy, charity, non-profits, and social entrepreneurship I would have never learned without the Global Philanthropy Summit or Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy. I am grateful for these experiences because I know they fueled my desire to work on public education policy following college.

This summer, I was able to join Allow Good on their Summer Summit, attending some of the same workshops I experienced three summers ago, and also seeing how the program has developed and grown. Not only was it a great refresher to revisit many social enterprises and non-profit organizations, but watching the participants' thought processes and creative ideas was thrilling. It is comforting to see that even in a chaotic society with little attention given to social good in schools, students still demonstrate their creativity and social awareness. To me, the Summer Summit showed me the importance of organizations such as Allow Good, which focus on youth and educating them on what they are capable of.

Summer Summit in Review

Summer Summit in Review

In June, eleven teenagers explored Chicago and discovered the city in a whole new light. At Allow Good’s weeklong Summer Summit, youth had the opportunity to visit local leaders in the philanthropic sector from various Chicago foundations, nonprofit organizations, emerging for-profit social ventures, and socially conscious businesses. More than 20 speakers from organizations such as Groupon, the McCormick Foundation, and GirlForward spoke on topics ranging from philanthropy to corporate social responsibility to global citizenship.

Activities throughout the week of the Summit focused on cultivating leadership, gathering insight from guest speakers, and putting their new knowledge into action. At the end of the week, each student worked individually or in pairs to create and present their own social entrepreneurship venture based on a social issue they identified as important to them.

Our students created eight different organizations, each aimed at a unique social issue they are passionate about.

Allow Good Students Grant $17,000 to Chicagoland Communities

High school students participated in a sixteen-week course that was integrated into their history and civics classes by Allow Good, an Evanston-based nonprofit that empowers youth to take meaningful action in their communities. Partnering with Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and Loyola University Chicago to deliver the curriculum, Allow Good staff trains college student facilitators who are then paired with a public high school classroom where they teach each week.

Throughout the semester, high school students worked towards their ultimate goal of donating $1,000 per class to local nonprofit organizations. The students explored their social identities in the context of the history and social challenges of their communities. They then researched and interacted with local community organizations and conducted their own grant-making process. The program culminates in a grant ceremony held at each high school where the students award the nonprofit of their choice with a $1,000 grant. This semester the program reached over 400 students across five public high schools in seventeen classrooms.

The students awarded grants to a wide variety of nonprofits and causes:

  • King College Prep (Chicago) students chose the IMPACT Family Center (youth and family self-sufficiency).
  • Hyde Park Academy (Chicago) students chose: the Center for Enriched Learning (putting people with developmental disabilities to work); CoderSpace (youth coding training); Girl Forward (opportunity for refugee girls); and the South Side Help Center (strengthening South Side communities).
  • Niles North High School (Skokie) students chose: Best Buddies (ending isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities); The Douglas Center (a ray of light for individuals with special needs); The Harbour (shelter and transitional housing for youth); Hatzalah Chicago (emergency medical responders); the Response Center for Sexual Health (teen sexual health services); and The Talking Farm (urban farming).
  • Senn High School (Chicago) students chose: Alternatives, Inc. (supporting youth experiencing homelessness); Centro Romero (immigrant and refugee self-sufficiency); Inspiration Corporation (a catalyst for self-reliance); the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society (well-being and self-sufficiency of Iraqi/Middle East refugees); the Lakeview Pantry (local food pantry).
  • Evanston high school students involved with Y.O.U. (Youth & Opportunity United) chose Jumpstart (developing critical kindergarten readiness skills).

Allow Good’s goal is to empower youth to take independent action in their communities and build the capacity of their communities throughout their lives. Mark Collins, Director of the Niles Food Pantry (a grant recipient in 2016) observed that, “I can sense that a certain awareness has been instilled within the young participants...not only of themselves, but of their place as members of our community as a whole. It is encouraging to see that students are not only learning about the big picture of what philanthropy means, but are truly processing what they have learned in order to formulate plans of action.”

For more information on how to start a collegiate chapter or bring Allow Good to your high school contact Karin Scott, Program Director at Allow Good, or visit www.allowgood.org.

Allow Good empowers youth through the tools of philanthropy to take meaningful action in their world. We envision a world with engaged youth, inclusive participation, and vibrant communities. We inspire youth to become actively engaged in addressing social challenges throughout their lives. For more information on Allow Good, visit www.allowgood.org. 

SV2 Teens Visit BuildOn

By: Finn

Finn lives in California and participates in our custom program with the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund.

The SV2 Teens are focusing on investments in education for low income youth both locally and internationally. As a part of our mission to expand educational resources, we have the opportunity to visit and invest in three organizations: Khan Academy, BuildOn, and MultiCultural Institute. We’re looking forward to the grant making decision process in April, but the site visits are always a special opportunity to experience impactful organizations throughout the Bay Area. Here is a review of our second site visit:

“We want others to know that people are out there who actually care; we hope to inspire the community to help out” – Ben, BuildOn Program Alumni

The SV2 Teens travelled to Oakland to spend the afternoon at BuildOn, an organization that works to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations for students through service and education. BuildOn mentors low income high school students in cities throughout the United States including Oakland, Chicago, and New York City. Their students graduate at a rate of 97%, and have contributed over 1.8 million hours of service! There is more to this organization than domestic programs, however. BuildOn Trek is a program in which students travel to seven countries such as Haiti, Malawi, or Burkina Faso to build a school, stay with a host family, and immerse themselves in a new culture. To date, they have built over 1000 schools abroad

Several BuildOn high school students and alumni also shared their experiences and insights with us. It was an incredible opportunity to hear the excited participants speak about their favorite community service days including working at soup kitchens and visiting the elderly at senior homes. We also learned about their trips to Nepal and Malawi and how it was challenging yet wonderful to learn about and be a part of the unique culture of their host families!

Other groups, besides SV2, are taking note of the impactful work that BuildOn is doing with education for low income youth! We learned that BuildOn students have recently partnered with General Electric Digital Technologies to combat social injustice and socioeconomic inequality using innovative technology. In addition, BuildOn schools across the world are now being transformed into around-the-clock community centers through a partnership with Solar City, who install solar panels in the schools to provide light and energy at night.

BuildOn’s unique and innovative approach to combating civil unrest, poverty, and low expectations through education is remarkably effective. However, their students’ natural love for community service is what makes this organization so impactful!

The SV2 listen to the BuildOn presenter and youth participants at their Oakland office.

The SV2 listen to the BuildOn presenter and youth participants at their Oakland office.