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.