Using Philanthropy for Gender Equality

By: Hannah
Hannah is a participant in Allowance for Good's Autumn 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class. 

Recently, I have become quite a feminist. Not the stereotypical, angry, hairy-legged feminist, but the person who genuinely believes that the world needs to see men and women as equals. Nothing makes me more disappointed than hearing about the injustices women suffer of a daily basis just by being female. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been in support of gender equality, but only in the past few months have I become so attuned to extent of the problem both local and worldwide.

If I were to be fortunate enough to have a family foundation, I would dedicate it to making the woman’s voice heard through education. I choose education because the only way to make lasting change is by inspiring the next generation. School teaches young girls more than just academics—it teaches them they have a future. It teaches them they have power to do anything they set their mind to and will create the spark needed to for us to obtain true gender equality.

Most of my family foundation’s money would go to help international organizations dedicated to ending the gender gap in places like the Middle East where sexism is most prominent. This is because the money would make the most dramatic difference there, and I would want each penny to be used as efficiently as possible. I would also give to organizations that support women’s health because it is equally important for women to be educated in body and mind. After all, happiness and success are only possible in good health.

The rest of the money would go to organizations that focus on women’s rights in the US because American women experience sexism on a daily basis. We have come a long way, but the end of gender-based discrimination is still far off. One staggering statistic is the fact that females make up fifty percent of college graduates, but only five percent of CEOs. That resonates with me because it points out exactly what we have accomplished and what still needs to be done. It shows we have given girls dreams, but we have not turned them into reality just yet. I think that if women’s rights organizations get the support they need, we have a real chance of creating a tomorrow where no woman is disadvantaged just because of her sex.

Hannah works with her ELP classmates to create their theoretical family foundation.

Allowance for Good: Creating Changemakers and Citizens of the World

By: Danielle Siebert
Danielle is an Allowance for Good parent. 

As parents, we want the best for our kids. We want to give them everything they’ll need to be successful in their lives. So often, however, our focus is on whether or not they attend the best schools, make the right grades, play the sport of their choice or spend their free time constructively. We are so fortunate to live in a community full of amazing resources and opportunities to help our children to succeed in every traditional sense of the word. But I’ve often wondered…is this really enough?

Despite all of these fantastic opportunities and abundant resources, are our kids really developing the skills they will need to find and create their own happiness? How will they discover what they are truly passionate about? Can they connect with others in a meaningful way? Will they grow up confident and kind? Most of all…will they become citizens of Chicago’s north shore or will they truly become citizens of the world?

The idea of service has always been important in our lives. My husband and I were fortunate to have parents who valued both volunteerism and philanthropy. We grew up knowing that we are so small in this big world and that it would be our efforts to connect with and help others…near and far, friends and strangers…that would bring us the most happiness. For us, this is one of the most important things we can pass on to our children. Their greatest joys will come from reaching out, connecting with and helping others and having the confidence to discover and follow their own passions. What a joy it has been to see our daughter grow and develop in these ways during her involvement with Allowance for Good.

Last fall, our daughter, Clara, was a participant in the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy (ELP) Explorers program offered by Allowance for Good. Through their fantastic speakers, seminars and discussions, Clara gained a much better understanding of the many ways that she can get involved with local and global issues and organizations that she cares about. She has always been a kind, thoughtful and curious person, but was sometimes shy and a bit hesitant. Well, no longer! We’ve seen such a transformation in her and especially in her desire to become involved in leadership roles in her school, in her extracurricular activities and among her friends. The ELP program has helped her realize that the words “Be the Change” are far more than just words.

The teens who attend the programs offered by AfG find such determination relative to the changes that they can bring about…in their own communities and around the world. They are learning skills that will help them leverage resources effectively and they are gaining confidence in themselves and their abilities. Additionally, they are finding the joy that comes from doing something that they are passionate about. They are discovering how nonprofits work to connect, help and inspire. And they are learning that connecting and “giving back” can be about far more than just donating money. They see firsthand the difference that only one person can make and they see the big changes that they themselves can create.

We are looking forward to our daughter’s continued participation in AfG’s programming…especially the ELP Changemakers program and hopefully a trip to one of the global affiliates in the coming years. As a parent, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your child become passionate about helping others. We see her developing the same appreciation for volunteerism and philanthropy that we value so much. We are so grateful to AfG for helping our daughter and her fellow ELP participants along their road to becoming kind, caring and passionate citizens of the world!

Quality Education for All

By: Lauren
Lauren is participating in Allowance for Good's winter 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program.

I am passionate about making quality educational opportunities available to all children and parents, regardless of their income and their environment.

I came from a poor household where my birth parents were uneducated and uninformed about what opportunities might be available to improve our family’s life. I had no exposure to reading or writing and attended an inner city school thru the first half of second grade. There were 38 children in my first grade class with only one teacher and no assistant. I could not get the help I needed because I didn’t know how to ask for it and my Mom and Dad didn’t know how to advocate for me. My life changed dramatically when my Mom allowed me to live with my godmother. She is a college graduate with a double degree. Suddenly I was immersed in learning, attending a quality district school in the suburbs and gradually coming out of my shell.

My godmother then enrolled me in Baker Demonstration School for middle school. My Mom and Dad would never have been able to do that because of the cost, even with financial aid. By 7th grade I realized how much I had been missing by not attending a quality school. I got all the help I needed and began to achieve academic success in all my subjects.

As a result of my experiences at Baker, I became committed to making the 2014 8th grade graduating class gift something of significance to provide an opportunity for a child like me to attend a high quality school. I am proud of myself because I led this charge. We decided on a scholarship for tuition costs and have been raising money throughout this school year to fund the scholarship through multiple means—bake sales, hot dog lunches, babysitting services, and various partnerships with local businesses.

I am hoping that the Class of 2015 will follow in our footsteps and make a second scholarship available. My classmates and I have worked hard to impress the 7th graders about the importance of this issue.

I will be attending Regina Dominican High School where there is a great emphasis on women’s leadership. I have already attended one of their conferences and learned a great deal about consensus-forming and incorporating diverse opinions into one goal and project. I am determined to continue to work on providing all children with the opportunity to escape a life of poverty through education. My dream is that those of us who get this opportunity will grow in number and commit to continuing the efforts to reach more and more children and their families.

Lauren tells us why she is a Catalyst for Good during our ELP: Explorers class. It reads, "I  am a Catalyst for Good because I am determined to give the choice of education to any child around the world!"