Students take ‘GIVING BACK’ journey …

The concept of charity beginning at home has come much closer to reality for a number of Jupiter area eleventh-graders.

It’s all part of what’s called the Main Street Philanthropy program, a pilot course headed up by local professionals devoting their off duty time and encouraging young people to learn more about charitable giving with a hands-on approach.

The 10-week first-of-its-kind course in Palm Beach County comes by way of introduction from members of Advisors for Philanthropic Impact, a newly-formed local organization of CPAs, attorneys, and investment advisors who decided it was a great idea to teach young people about giving to the less fortunate.

“We knew we could collaborate more effectively on behalf of our adult clients when it comes to educating them on charitable giving,” says API’s Lori Denison, but we also asked ourselves, ‘What can we as a group do?’ when it comes to impacting and educating youth on the values and importance of giving back to the community.”

 

OPPORTUNITY

Two local high schools accepted the after-school opportunity which began earlier this year, with seven Jupiter area students from The Benjamin School now close to finishing their philanthropic journey.

West Palm’s Oxbridge Academy was the second school participating in the project.

The students’ first task was to identify their own passions regarding areas of charitable giving in which they were interested. They then formed teams based on their top three choices.

The program continued with the challenge to find local charities with missions and purposes that aligned with their own, as well as those the students felt would be a good steward of their charitable investments.

Representatives from the selected nonprofits then presented their cases in front of the students, their leaders and teachers.

Over the course of the program, students further investigated the charities including researching their tax returns, websites and overall function and purpose. They also evaluated how these organizations impacted local communities.

After healthy discussions, the students eventually moved forward with fundraising activities to benefit their designated organizations.

Lori Denison, a life insurance professional and one of three API Main Street Philanthropy facilitators, has been excited to accompany the students on their charitable journeys.

“These students already contribute significant time and talent through community service activities. Their giving power will expand as they identify, research, recognize and financially support charities doing vital work in our community.”

 

BLOGGING PART OF IT

While the students’ last names are kept confidential, a number of them have blogged on the Main Street Philanthropy website over the course of the program.

Hannah C. blogs, “I learned a lot about my organization which is the HEAL Foundation, a nonprofit which stands for “Heal Every Autistic Life.” The Main Street Philanthropy program helped Hannah look into HEAL by analyzing the organizations tax returns, “because you want to make sure that all the organization’s income is used towards the cause,” Hanna continues.

Benjamin’s Antonio R. found himself focusing on gratitude for his own family carrying over to his passion for family service organizations.

“I’m really happy to be in the family services group, everyone should grow up within a supportive and caring family structure,” he writes. “Unfortunately, struggles within families are extremely prevalent and widespread. These problems affect everyone involved and can yield some disastrous outcomes. I hope my group and I can make an impact on this issue through this program.”

The all-volunteer program has worked by using a combination of donated funds and money the young people have raised on their own. Fundraising activities over the past few months have included everything from bagel sales to car washes.

 

‘TRANSFORMATIONAL’

Most recently, the students have been delivering checks to their selected charities as the course comes to a conclusion. Benjamin students have raised more than $8,000 for charities in the areas of education, health research and medical care, hunger, people with special needs, and family and children’s services.

Maite Arnedo, a wealth management advisor and Main Street Philanthropy leader, explains.

“Students are inspired to explore and support the causes they are most passionate about, which are a reflection and extension of the values they have learned from their parents and grandparents. For many, the process is transformational.”

With the success of this initial Main Street Philanthropy Program, it’s hoped that in addition to the current group of students learning charity at home, future courses are around the corner to train young people to not just be philanthropists now – but good citizens tomorrow as well.

Main Street Philanthropy is a 501(c)(3) educational organization that inspires future generations to become passionate philanthropists.

Small teams of students and their classroom teachers are lead through a truly transformational experience that builds new philanthropic leaders for tomorrow.

More information can be found at www.mainstreetphilanthropy.org

This article originally appeared on tcpalm.com

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