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.

Philanthropy for the Long-Term

By: John

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

I have been involved in SV2 teens for 5 years, and I joined the leadership team last year. The reason I decided to join was because my sisters were involved, but I continued to work with SV2 because I have loved learning about philanthropy and the organizations that help change our community. Through the program, I have learned how to evaluate a nonprofit organization based on three main factors: the sustainability, scope, and success of their work. It is crucial for a philanthropic organization to try to solve a problem at the roots, thus creating long-term change rather than "bandaid" fixes. At the end of the year, we have a major grant making decision

I have learned about countless organizations, including HIP Housing, Downtown Streets Team, and the Bill Wilson Center. In addition to volunteering with these organizations for a day, we learn about everything about them, including their budget, size, and how they evaluate their success. The people volunteering at these nonprofits always inspire me with their dedication and passion for their work, which makes me really excited about the possibilities of philanthropic work. This is my favorite part of SV2; every time we visit an organization, I feel more motivated and more prepared to create change in our community.  

Through these organizations we visited, I have learned that even if it is unrealistic, it is crucial to have a long-term vision in mind. For example, a vision could be "a world in which all people have equal access to education." This vision motivates people to keep working towards a better future. This is our topic for this year: education programs for low-income youth. I am incredibly excited about this theme because I feel that education is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty. It is increasingly important for students to finish high school and college in order to get a good job in this country, meaning it is unjust for underprivileged kids to have little access to a good education. For this reason I can't wait to learn more about organizations working to solve this problem. I am really excited for this year because we have a bigger grant than usual and will be able to make a more significant difference in these organizations.

John, top row second from the left, with the members of the SV2 Teen Board. 

John, top row second from the left, with the members of the SV2 Teen Board. 

SV2 Teens Visit Khan Academy

By: Finn

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

This year, 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 wonderful opportunity to experience impactful organizations throughout the Bay Area. Here is a review of our first site visit:

Wonderful afternoon today spent at Khan Academy! This was a great opportunity for the SV2 Teens to experience one of the world’s leading education nonprofits in their very own headquarters. Between the delicious snacks, enthusiastic staff members, and inspiring web-based programs, this was definitely an awesome experience!

“A free world-class education to anyone, anywhere.” Khan’s mission statement speaks for itself. We loved learning how the company came to life in 2007 after Sal began making online videos to help his nieces with math concepts. Today, as a nonprofit with over 140 staff members, they have reached over 50 million registered users in nearly 200 countries! And they are just getting started; I was fascinated by K.A.’s vision for the future: provide teachers with a free, rich, and interactive learning tool; transition to a more social platform with student to student interaction, and expand higher education programs like electrical engineering or economics into possible vocational training. Finally, the leadership team at K.A. emphasizes that their platform is for everyone to advance their education, and this is becoming a reality as they expand to the population of countries like India, China, Brazil, Mexico, and many more! 

Finn, left, meeting with Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy

Finn, left, meeting with Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy

Our teens group also had the opportunity to test out and evaluate Khan Academy’s SAT practice programs. In the tech world this is called “eating your own dogfood” or testing out the beta product ourselves! This was a ton of fun as we got to try out the programs for ourselves and work our way through grueling math concepts!

Could not have asked for a better visit at Khan Academy. From a girl in a slum in Mumbai accessing education from a smart phone or a student in the Bay Area getting extra help with Algebra, the possibilities with this online platform are limitless!

Why I Marched on Washington

By: Luc
Luc lives in Elmhurst, IL and has participated in our custom programs since 2014.

It has been one month and 2 days since I, a teenage boy from the suburbs of Chicago, marched on Washington with my mother and 1.2 million other men and women. Looking back, it was rough, it really was, I won’t lie to you. The bus ride was 12 hours, the seats were cramped, I knew nobody but my mom (and had to trust them with my safety when we got there), I was the only boy on the bus, and we were packed like sardines for an hour and a half before the March even started.

Looking back, however, I would no doubt do it again, and again, and again. I would do this because I got to stand up for what I believe in with other people who were doing the same. So, the March was rough, but it was the most unique and awe inspiring thing I have ever seen in my entire life.

There was so much passion in every inch of Washington, there was nobody walking beside me who looked like they didn’t want to be there, and everyone was united under one mind set, that of caring and kindness. I mean that’s why I went. My mom’s sign said “It’s about kindness & compassion”, and on the other side, “It’s about human dignity”.

I went to make Mr. Trump aware that I care, and that I am caring, and that we need more kindness, and that there are problems that we believe in that he needs to address. I wasn’t there to say he was illegitimate, I wasn’t there in hatred, I was there in kindness and compassion. The roar of people screaming out about their rights, the rights of others, and the rights of our Earth was a sound like no other, and a sound I will never forget. If you have ever been to a concert for Kanye West, Future, Chance the Rapper, Coldplay, or even TØP, you haven’t seen anything like a million women who are fired up and want what they believe in.

After such a chaotic month and a half after the election, being there in D.C. restored my pride in America and the world. To me it was one elaborate announcement to ourselves and the world saying “Hey, we’re not all how you perceive us, and most of us are with you!” If ever given a chance to stand up for what you think is right, Democrat or Republican, I would 100% recommend doing so. Take action, put in the work, be a part of the movement. I’m sure glad I did.