Children, Youth, and Family

Ten years ago this month I waddled – enormously pregnant – into a job interview with the founder of a billion dollar healthcare tech company. “I have this crazy idea about education,” he said.

While the Perrin Family Foundation has spent the past two decades supporting the leadership development of young people in Connecticut, our understanding of and approach to leadership development has undergone a dramatic shift.

100 years. A lot happens in 100 years. Just take a moment to imagine life in 1914. An unprecedented World War was just starting. The Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, and personal computers were still in the future. Even the science fiction of the time couldn’t predict the world of 2014.

Youth and young adults are engaging with each other and their communities in many different and new ways that affect their philanthropic activities. Both formal and informal structures to support youth and young adult philanthropy are now emerging, building on the long tradition of youth philanthropy in the community foundation field. Many community philanthropic organizations are working with young people to help them become more engaged with their communities, but are not aware of the innovative work going on in other countries. Identifying the most promising practices can give insight to community foundations and community philanthropic organizations as they look to expand their work with young people.

The Richmond Community Foundation began, in 2002, what was to become its largest community initiative: The Nystrom United Revitalization Effort (NURVE). The Foundation began to convene Richmond, California community residents and stakeholders through focus groups, surveys and planning charrettes to develop a vision for the Nystrom community, considered at the time one of the most violent communities in the United States.

As the third poorest city in the country, Buffalo welcomed the opportunity to say “yes” – and hope has been ignited! First-year outcomes indicate an 8-percentage point increase in high school graduation (the largest in the district’s recent history) and a 9-percentage point increase in college matriculation rates. The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has been central to driving this new optimism.

In summer 2012 I was a brand new Program Officer and wasn’t sure what to expect when I joined a group from the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) on a rural bus tour of eight youth camps in three days. My traveling companions were members and guests of the JFN Disability Peer Network. We were all trying to understand better how well children with disabilities are included in the Jewish camping movement.