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Philanthropy and Teens

    Often, being cool is related to the latest technology gadget or toy. Sometimes it is cool to have a special talent or knowledge about arcane subjects. Rarely is anything that parents or adults in general want to “teach” teens considered cool. Nevertheless, for 14 years Young Philanthropists has shown Orange County teens that it is “cool” to give back. According to Nancy Chase, one of the founders of Orange County’s Young Philanthropists, “Through the years, we’ve seen that involving our teens in philanthropy is beneficial to the individuals, the organizations, the community and society as a whole.”
    At the broadest level, youth philanthropy is youth giving of their time, talents and treasure, just as philanthropy itself is. Studies show that youth flourish when they participate in philanthropy, feeling a sense of ownership and pride, and stronger connections to their respective communities.
    Young Philanthropists, a program for Orange County Jewish teens out of the Merage JCC, introduces teens to strategic, thoughtful philanthropy with the intent to inspire them toward giving with impact. “Young Philanthropists is really cool because it taught me that my voice matters and that it is our responsibility to create long lasting solutions,” wrote a participant.
    Eyal Gavshon participated for four years and noted, “As Jews, it is so important to incorporate tzedakah. I really liked learning about different charitable organizations, volunteering, and discovering passion projects to fund.”
  Each fall, in four sessions, the Young Philanthropists learn the basic guidelines of meaningful philanthropy, visit local nonprofit agencies, hear leaders from national and international organizations, participate in hands-on change-the-world projects, and experience the Jewish value of tikkun olam (repairing the world). At the conclusion of the series, the teens put their learning to work, collectively engaging in a thoughtful, lively process to determine how to divide up a pool of funds to support the various organizations they studied. Prior to the program, each teen donates money to a pool, with a generous community donor filling the pool with an additional $7,000. Through articulate, educated debates, the teens advocate and negotiate for preferred causes and organizations.
    The next session of Young Philanthropists launches October at the Merage JCC. Do you know a teen who might want to change the world?

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