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."

Different Perspectives = Broader Philanthropic Lens

By: Rebecca
Rebecca participated in Allowance for Good's 2014 Global Philanthropy Summit program. 

We all came into GPS with different expectations of what the experience would be like and different ideas about what philanthropy means to us. On the first day of the summit we were able to bring those different perspectives together to better understand philanthropy through a broader lens. 

After discussing these topics as a whole, our first major activity involve making a video in small groups about what philanthropy means to us and how we engage in philanthropy. The videos ranged from slam poems to skits, all discussing the various definitions and aspects of philanthropy.

Later on we learned about GlobeMed from Alyssa Smaldino. GlobeMed is an organization that runs through universities across the country. Each college forms a partnership with their chapter and a community health organization, supporting them through training, research, fundraising, and volunteering. The Northwestern chapter is paired with one of our global affiliates, Adonai child development centre. Learning about GlobeMed was interesting to me because I became aware of how my involvement with programs like AFG could continue through college. 

Another activity we participated in was creating our own business plans for social enterprises or nonprofits in small groups. This project allowed us to choose social issue that we cared about and think about ways that we could either solve those problems at the source or provide funding to solve them. Ideas included Cows for Care, a restaurant chain that used its proceeds to provide livestock to impoverished communities as a source of food and income, and Dogs for Jobs, a hotdog cart chain that gave jobs to at-risk people (Like felony franks).

These activities were a great introduction to the king of things that we would be doing and learning about for the remainder of the summit, they also allowed us to create our own definition of philanthropy based off of our own talents and experiences.