Youth Philanthropy Project

Take a look. Here's the window to our community.

Take a look. Here's the window to our community.

If you ever feel panicked about how much time you have left to change the world, take heart. You've got some help with this group of amazing young people. Because I could not find just one short snippet of something to love about the Youth Philanthropy Project, I'm copying the whole darn description of what YPP is--and does.

"The Youth Philanthropy Project (YPP), a partnership between HandsOn Greater Richmond and The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia, provides an intensive opportunity for area high-school aged youth to engage. Through service, leadership and grant-making, youth have a voice and a realized responsibility to contribute and lead others in service.

YPP is based on the belief that everyone, regardless of age, has an innate desire and ability to give, to participate, to learn, and to create the world they want to see. Youth in our area are motivated and poised for action and are calling on us to help them channel their energy, skills and knowledge into meaningful service.

Area youth are selected via application in late summer and meet monthly, October through June, to engage in leadership studies, service activity planning and implementation, and grant-making activities to award $15,000 to youth-led community service projects in the Greater Richmond area."

Here's what program manager Erin Osiol has to tell us.

H5RVA: If you had all the world's attention for two minutes, what would you say about YPP?

Erin: Young people are pretty darn amazing. As we all age, I think we forget that, or become smug in our “wisdom." But if we want a caring, compassionate, engaged society, we all have the responsibility to foster young people’s ideas, gifts, and contributions. I like to think that YPP is a program that provides a window to our community- the issues we struggle with and how it really affects people and families, but also the amazingly innovative and creative solutions people have developed to face those issues. Youth absolutely have the power to make positive change in their community, we just have to provide the opportunities, listen with a genuine ear, and encourage action.

H5RVA: What are you most excited about on your way to a YPP meeting?

Erin: Everything in YPP is so youth-driven, I never really know where things are going to end up, and I LOVE that. From designing and implementing their own service project, to overseeing the grantmaking process that awards $15,000 each year to youth-driven community service projects, YPP controls the most of the process. And I am always impressed with the seriousness with which they undertake these responsibilities. They want to make an impact and they want to be good stewards of the money they have been trusted with, and in YPP, they are provided the opportunity to steer those decisions. It means I need to be flexible, but it also means that I get to see their thought process unfold and see where their passion takes them.

H5RVA: How has YPP changed YOU?

Erin: When I came to HandsOn, I possessed many skills, but working with youth was not one of them. Facilitating the personal development of a bunch of high school students was definitely out of my wheelhouse, but it has turned into one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done professionally. The youth who participate in this program are immensely kind, curious, bright and motivated- who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by that? It’s given me tremendous faith in our futures and relationships I hope to carry with me for years.

H5RVA: What's your favorite YPP story/moment/memory?

Erin: The very best part of YPP, hands down, is witnessing all the little a-ha moments happening all around me. The fact that I get to be a part of helping youth understand their communities, their place in the world is almost magical. YPP youth come out of our program having had an opportunity to discuss and start to understand complex issues like poverty, race, inequality… They get to practice and build soft skills like empathy, active listening, critical thinking and collaboration. And with this knowledge, they start to understand how they can play a role in creating meaningful change in their communities.

H5RVA: What are you going to do with this High Five?

Going forward, all of our YPP grads will be high-fived upon completing the program!


Amy McCracken