YouthBank Model Has Global Appeal Engaging Youth in Grantmaking

Philanthropy is about strategy and choices. When foundations make choices and award grants, young people do not usually have a say in them, even when the grants affect them. Yet, young people have tremendous capacity to listen, to understand, and to make tough decisions. Involving them in grantmaking can have huge benefits and some interesting practices are emerging that give young people a prominent role in grantmaking. This case story explores in more detail one model — Youth Bank — that engages young people directly in grantmaking.

Inspired by practices of community foundations in the US and Canada, the model is spreading rapidly in Europe and globally. It particularly appeals to funders who are interested in engaging young people more actively with their communities. Since the model is very much hands on and youth-led, YouthBank has a strong appeal for young people.

“Funders who consider funding YouthBanks should not think that working with young people is only about teaching them something; you will learn with them.” This reflection from a YouthBank funder captures an essential feature of YouthBank: everyone learns, everyone is knowledgeable, and the thrill is to learn together. The YouthBank keywords are youth, community, grantmaking, youth-led, and self-development. A YouthBank team is a group of young people who work together to make grants that support projects developed by their peers.

Currently, YouthBanks are operating in 24 countries worldwide and the movement is rapidly growing, which indicates a broad appeal of the model. People involved in YouthBanks globally are connected through YouthBank International, a network that was launched officially in April 2013.

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