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

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 

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. 

Rising Up: Hearing from the Next Generation of Changemakers

By: Natalie
Natalie, a 7th grader at Haven Middle School, is a participant in Allowance for Good's 2016 Spring Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy class in the Evanston location

The Evanston ELP class engaged in an activity.
How have you been a philanthropist in the past and how do you envision being one in the future? 

I feel very lucky that since fourth grade I have been a part of the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy. As a part of this, I have had the chance to do a lot of community service. In the past couple of years I have done many soup kitchens, volunteered at a retirement home, worked at a basketball tournament where the money goes to a good cause, and I have made holiday cards for kids in hospitals. In the future, I do see myself doing more but also for bigger causes. I am passionate about the issue of helping people in need. I believe that everyone should have their necessary daily needs met. For example, I have helped with food drives that go to people that don't have enough food. In the future I hope to help build homes for low income families. I can see myself not only helping the Evanston community but also helping others around the world. 

The Evanston ELP class listens carefully.

Philanthropy in Depth

By: Moira
Moira is a participant in our Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Changemakers class. 

In Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Changemakers, we have the ability to delve deeper into philanthropy. At our last meeting, we went into more detail about the grant-making process, an extremely important part of the health of nonprofit organizations. The grant-making process starts with a healthy grantor-grantee relationship which must be mutually beneficial. Secondly, we learned about the mechanics of the grant-making process. Specifically, we learned about Request for Proposals which are documents created by grantors that describe the possible funding opportunities. After this, grantees are able to submit their proposals about what they intend to do with the funds and then the grantor will decide which grantee to allocate their funds to. One interesting fact that we learned about the grantmaking process is that there is no singular correct way to go about it: each different grantor/grantee will do it differently. 
A second topic of our class was exploring and learning more about nonprofit governance and accountability. A nonprofit is accountable to the public since their goals have to do with improving quality of life for some sector of the public. Within individual non-profits, there are many people that help the organization stay on the right track. For example, the Board of Directors is a group of people that oversee the actions of the non-profit in order to ensure that they are staying true to their mission and values. Without these people, there would be no third person perspective that has the organization's best interests in mind which would have a detrimental effect on the organization. 

In class, we did an activity in which, as a group, we had to decide where to allocate funds to as if we were grantors. Some of the most important factors we looked for in organizations were transparency, accountability, financial health, and efficiency. It is important to consider these criteria because they will ensure that a grantor is giving to a non-profit organization that will be responsible with the treasure given to them. The idea of criteria for organizations to give to ties into being an educated philanthropist in order to effectively give your time, talent, and treasure. 

Grant-making on the Ground

By: Sadie
Sadie is a participant in the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Changemakers class. 

This week in ELP we discussed creating mutually beneficial grantor-grantee relationships 
and expanded on the grantmaking process. So far, I have learned that the grantmaking process can be a hard but mutually beneficial for the grantor and grantee. Through a Request for Proposal or Letter of Intent, the grantor can identify the benefits or challenges involved in giving a grant to the grantee. Then, a grant application can further identify if giving the grant will be an efficient use of the money. The grantor can measure if there will be a mutually beneficial grantor-grantee relationship through these steps that help to measure the effect on the community the grantee will make with the money. 

We have learned that maintaining a mutually beneficial grantor-grantee relationship can ultimately lead to greater and stronger impacts on the community. Through communication, trust, and social impact, this relationship can become stronger. In our class this week, we had the pleasure of having Lauren Wolter from The Once Upon A Time Foundation speak and share her experience with us. The Once Upon A Time Foundation has three sectors; one of which is the Philanthropy Lab. The Philanthropy Lab organizes classes at several colleges and universities in which students are granted money that they can donate to an organization of their choice after learning about philanthropy. Similar to our learning at Allowance for Good, students are given the chance to learn about philanthropy and the grantmaking process and apply their learning to the real world. As a future college student, I think this is a great program to have because many students are unaware of the specifics of philanthropy and its impacts. As part of a foundation, we had the opportunity to hear Lauren’s perspective on the grantmaking process. She spoke of how grantmaking can truly be mutually beneficial and how that can benefit various communities. 

Because of my learning about the grantmaking process in Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy, I am now inspired to somehow be involved in the grantmaking process in the future. I am a catalyst for good because I think everyone deserves to have the same rights, resources, and opportunities as others and non-profit organizations and grantmaking is a way to bring this to action in my future. In the meantime, I will continue to educate myself and others on philanthropy and global change so that I can apply this knowledge in the future along with my peers.