Allow Good: Engaging High School Students in Philanthropy

By: Rachel
Rachel is on the leadership team for Northwestern University's chapter of Allow Good

Allow Good teacher engages
students at the first class at YOU.
"Not only do millennials lack the kind of empathy that allows them to feel concerned for others, but they also have trouble even intellectually understanding others' points of view," reported Time magazine writer Joel Stein in 2013. In his article, Stein accused millennials of having the lowest generational dedication to civic engagement but the highest rates of narcissism as the so-called "Me, Me, Me Generation." However, I feel this increasingly popular narrow mindset mislabels individuals as self-absorbed when in actuality many are empathetic and engaged and those who are uninvolved in their community simply are not presented with adequate accessible volunteer opportunities. The issue of disengaged youth greatly motivated myself and a group of my Northwestern peers to work with Allowance for Good in producing a high school program teaching students about philanthropy through a civic engagement and social justice lens. We felt high schoolers deserved a chance to be treated as competent young-adults, educated about their local non-profits, and then given the resources and skills to responsibly give $1000 back to their community.

The idea for this curriculum stemmed from a spring course my project partner, Imani Wilson, and I took at Northwestern called the Philanthropy Lab. We spent the course learning about the history of philanthropy, how to evaluate non-profits, and meeting with potential grantees to receive a portion of our class grant of $100,000, which was sponsored through the Once Upon a Time Foundation (OUTF). We worked on the class's Child and Youth Development Team and in the end granted $20,000 to Girls in the Game (GiG), a local Chicago organization that encourages girls to use sports to improve self-esteem and reinforce healthy lifestyles. Once the class ended, OUTF encouraged students in our class to apply for their Changemakers Grant of $5,000 to sponsor any project that would educate students about philanthropy.

Rachel, at the Allow Good teacher training
Shortly after, we were put in contact with Allowance for Good and discussed our vision of an adaptation of our philanthropy lab class taught to high schoolers by Northwestern students. Soon after filling out paperwork, we received the $5,000 grant and quickly found two more NU students, Fannie and Matt, to join the project as credit for our Civic Engagement Certificate non-profit internship class. Fall quarter, we worked tirelessly to create a pilot program with 14 lesson plans lasting 45 minutes each including a detailed teacher's manual. Last week, we spent 6 hours training teachers in philanthropy education and classroom facilitation strategies. Now, I am happy to announce that our first day of classes will launch last week at Niles North High School and Evanston Township High School's after-school program called Y.O.U.

Reflecting on the past few months, I believe the best part of working on the project has been seeing the assets of my team come together. Fannie joined the team with expertise in philanthropy curriculum development. As a passionate social justice advocate on campus, Matt brought a wealth of knowledge on teaching students about current inequality issues. And, Imani's ability to pay close attention to detail and insistence on meeting deadlines helped our group stay on pace. With their contributions, the curriculum and camaraderie among group members has surpassed anything I originally imagined.

Looking to the future, I can't wait to see the impact of the curriculum on high school students. Once presented with the opportunity to learn and give back, I am confident that these students will rise to the occasion and erase any association with the so-called "Me, Me, Me Generation."