Future Philanthropists Program Success Story

The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation


What Do Youth Think About the Program?

Hear What High School, College and Alumni Network Participants Say.


THE IDEA for creating a youth education and leadership development program at the Community Foundation came from previous Board member, Rick King, who had been inspired by youth grant making programs at other community foundations across the country.

As he studied these various models, He saw opportunities to design a program that provided a robust teaching curriculum and learning experiences focused broadly on the art, science and business of community philanthropy.

The model would be supported by a restricted endowment fund that would eventually grow to a level of program self-sustainability. It would engage youth in creating, organizing and implementing community impact activities. And it would provide for the direct participation of donors and volunteers in both supporting and delivering the program.


In February 2010, he took the idea to Doris and Jay Christopher, founders of The Pampered Chef, who had established a family foundation and were generous donors in the Oak Park and River Forest communities. Their gift of $150,000 to initially seed the endowment fund was matched by the Grand Victoria Foundation, one of the charitable arms of the Pritzker’s family of businesses.

Kittleman & Associates, a national executive recruiting firm owned by Mr. King, pledged to underwrite grants distributions for the first several years.

The new entity would be called the Future Philanthropists Program (FPP), a name intended to emphasize its mission of providing a student learning continuum that would lead to a life-long commitment to community philanthropy leadership.


Four volunteers associated with the Community Foundation agreed to serve as the first volunteer mentors, a critical component of the model. Working with three area high schools, one public and two private, 12 juniors were accepted into the first cohort for the 2010-11 school year. The following year, 16 students were accepted and over the ensuing years 25 students were (and continue to be) accepted into the program each school year. Today, the Future Philanthropists Program is delivered in its entirety by 10 experienced volunteer mentors and two program coordinators.

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The junior cohort program curriculum that was developed focused on community impact and volunteerism related to the art, science and business of philanthropy. The students learn about current social problems and issues, economic impact of the nonprofit sector, trends in philanthropic giving, endowments and the importance of social enterprise. They also learn the basics of issuing a request for proposals, program impact and evaluation, site visits to community selected community agencies and consensus building techniques for decision making. This part of the program results in their distribution of $25,000 in new grants to local nonprofits each year. Throughout the year, students also learn how to proactively identify felt needs in the community and then organize and deliver volunteer services.

The senior cohort program curriculum that was developed focused on vitalizing donor engagement and continuing activities in volunteerism. Students organize, plan and launch a fundraising campaign that is implemented over the course of the school year. Using a variety of donor development activities and events, the students learn how to develop a strong case for support while utilizing the concept and practice of donor affinity/capacity and other techniques used in professional development.

Each year since the inception of the program, seniors have increased the number of new donors and have exceeded their fundraising goal.

All contributions are credited to the Future Philanthropists Program Endowment Fund which is invested by the Community Foundation and managed under its customary fee arrangement. Through the student’s solicitation of new donors each year and their stewarding of previous donors, total assets in the Fund have grown exponentially.

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Most students in the program went on to college and we believed that there should be opportunities to continue our mentoring and educational programming for these students. With this in mind, we devised a college leadership award program that sought to encourage and inspire the students to be leaders in community philanthropy in both on-campus and off-campus activities. A generous donor established the initial funding for this monetary award and helped establish the guidelines and process for which annual grants would be made. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors are encouraged to apply and many students have been recognized and rewarded for their efforts.

For example, Sarah, a rising senior at Notre Dame, started a GoFundMe website that enabled her to buy rain boots for 227 children so they could get to and from school each day in the muddy wetlands of the Masi. Maille, a rising junior at the University of Maryland, established a new student organization that advocates for sexual assault survivors and student engagement in legislative issues that affect college students.

Each summer, these college students attend a gathering in Oak Park to share their experiences in community philanthropy and to stay in touch with each other.



Students that participated in the first FPP cohorts are now young adults who are starting their careers and/or attending graduate schools. And they are members of the FPP Alumni Network which was formed to provide a continuing link to the program and to the Community Foundation. As program alumni, they receive continuing communications and educational materials from FPP and are provided with opportunities to engage in the work of the Community Foundation.

Nina and Fran, for example, who were in the 2012 and 2014 Junior Cohort, respectively, served as the first Alumni Mentors of the FPP, working with the Classes of 2018and 2019. \Alumni are also invited to join the college students at their summer event to share their success stories in community philanthropy and provide inspiration.


The outcomes of the Future Philanthropists Program demonstrate its high return on investment as well as its high return on mission:

✓ Starting at zero in 2010, the total asset market value of the Future Philanthropists Program Endowment Fund as of September 30, 2018 was in excess of $915,000.
✓ A total of $200,000 in a new grant money to local nonprofits has been distributed over the past 8 years.
✓ Currently, an average of 400 new donor names are added to the Community Foundation’s donor database each year as a result of the Senior Cohort fundraising campaigns. To date, a total of 855 new donors have been identified through the program.
✓ 173 young people are currently in the program – 50 students in the High School Program, 78 students in the College Program and 45 young adults in the Alumni Network Program.

They represent our pipeline of future leaders in community philanthropy and this is just the beginning!

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