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.

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!

Philanthropy in Action: Experiences of an ELP Graduate

By: Will
Will was a participant in Allowance for Good's Spring 2015 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy class in the McCormick Foundation location. Will is currently a summer fellow with Allowance for Good.  

When a friend and I signed up for Allowance for Good’s Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program the spring of my junior year in high school, I had no idea the path it would set me upon. I was originally drawn to the opportunity to learn more about a few trendy buzzwords such as philanthropy in an environment full of like-minded students. Yet, I was immediately struck by the unique messages AFG sent about what philanthropy meant.

Today, what stands out the most is a conversation our class had on the differences between charity and philanthropy. I had subconsciously come to believe that these two words were synonyms, but it was made clear to me that philanthropy went a step farther. Whereas charity is passive and monetarily based, philanthropy is active, socially conscious, and available for all audiences to participate in. (It’s what’s often specifically referred to by the staff here as the giving of time, talent, and treasure). Philanthropy, it became clear, was something I wanted to be a part of.

With this grand realization in mind, the aforementioned friend (named Jackson) and I set to work. With the help of some fantastic teachers, we founded the Student Philanthropy Initiative this fall at the Latin School of Chicago. Eight dedicated students joined us in the fall semester, where Jackson and I held biweekly classes to impart the knowledge AFG had given us onto these students. We discussed grant making, read case studies, and met with community leaders from the Uptown neighborhood—a place where Latin has strong ties. Culling resources from the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program and other national organizations, we provided the students with a baseline idea of how philanthropy is used as a catalyst for impact.

Our spring semester, though, was where the fun really started. Due to generous donations from alumni and other sources, the Student Philanthropy Initiative had $6200 to give to a deserving nonprofit in Uptown. We reached out to organizations, read grant applications, went on site visits, debated vigorously, and ultimately awarded two grants to two nonprofits doing life-changing work. The second place grant of $1200 was awarded to The Viola Project, an organization that uses Shakespeare to empower young girls from diverse backgrounds and plans on using the grant to help hire a director of diversity and outreach. The grand prize of $5000 was given to Chicago Youth Programs, which—in their own words—strives to improve the health and life opportunities of at-risk youth using a comprehensive approach aimed at developing their capabilities.” Our grant will enable them to fund a variety of programs for all age groups over the summer. These particular organizations stood out to us for their impact in the community, but it was heartening having the opportunity to come into contact with so many extraordinary nonprofits in the Uptown neighborhood alone.

Allowance for Good’s program inspired me to use what I’d learned and help implement an initiative in my community that I hope to thrive long past my graduation. If that isn’t indicative of AFG’s ripple effect, I’m not sure what is.

Now, as I return to AFG as a summer intern, I must reflect as well as look forward. I can’t wait to continue my efforts in philanthropy and community service next year in college through whatever avenues I can. And this summer, I’m ecstatic to work with such dedicated individuals on the staff to make Allowance for Good the best organization it can be.

Understanding How We Spend Money

By: Charles
Charles is a participant in Allowance for Good's 2015 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy class in the Elmhurst location

"I am a Catalyst for Good because....I want to make a change"
Charles at AfG's ELP class in Elmhurst this week. 

I learned how every little thing I buy really adds up. Almost all the things I am spending my money on is something that is not necessary and I can live without. I was really surprised tracking my spending because I spent a lot more than I even realized. I will definitely spend my money differently now that I realize that I don't need to spend as much money and use it to donate because I know how much farther the money goes in third world countries than it does here. Financial literacy is very important to philanthropy because if everyone realized how unnecessary a lot of the things they are buying then we could use it to change the world.