A Unique Program Design


✓ A permanent endowment fund to provide for program self-sufficiency
✓ Student participants who are formally accepted for admission into the program
✓ Robust curriculum and instructional materials focused on experiential learning
✓ Adult community volunteers who serve as mentors and who deliver the program
✓ A College Program providing financial support for the students’ philanthropic activities
✓ An Alumni Program that inspires and supports their ongoing leadership roles





Using a robust curriculum, lesson plans and experiential learning activities, students raise money and grant money while carrying out uniquely-designed volunteer strategies.


Providing continuing educational resources and financial assistance, students extend their engagement in community philanthropy activities while earning their academic degree.


Ensuring continued access to professional-level educational and leadership development resources, these young adults join a peer network of philanthropic leaders.

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The Breadth And Depth of This Approach Is Unequaled.

The key components of the program model are based on the new learning paradigm of the Three Pillars of Philanthropy: Creating Community Impact, Vitalizing Donor Engagement and Building Strategic Volunteerism What distinguishes it compared to other youth programs is:

✓ What is Taught
✓ Who it Involves
✓ How it is Organized
✓ Where it Leads


Consistent with the fundamental underpinnings of the community foundation, a program focused on community philanthropy would be expected to exist in perpetuity, i.e. that it would operate forever through a permanently restricted endowment fund, as opposed to limited unrestricted annual operating dollars from the community foundation. This model calls for Initial outside investor-donors to start the fund and demonstrate their support of the program. An annual fundraising campaign is led by the students themselves as part of their experiential learning. A variety of donor development strategies and fundraising events are utilized. Given favorable market returns and annual additions from fundraising activities, the endowment fund continues to grow over time so that the program becomes financially self-sustaining. The community foundation collects its customary fee for managing the fund.


The vast majority of existing youth programs offer an “open enrollment” approach in which any teen who is interested may participate. This model differs in that teens who express an interest in the program submit an essay-style application and go through a personal interview in order to be accepted. Because these teens are asked to make a long-term commitment to the program, an extraordinary request at their age given the 10- year program horizon, a more thoughtful, structured process of selection is required. The acceptance decisions focus not only on each student’s demonstrated potential, passion and desire to be a leader in community philanthropy but also on balancing the varying personalities and backgrounds of the student cohort group. The high school program hopes to create a strong bonding experience for them that will carry over to their college and young adult years.


“The more we increase the active participation and partnership with youth, the better we serve them.”

- Carmen Martinez

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High school program sessions are delivered via a robust curriculum and turn-key style instructional materials which contain lesson plans written specifically for teaching the art, science and business of community philanthropy. The Program Curriculum & Guidebooks provide all the program content, handouts and experiential learning exercises for each of the two years of the high school program. It is accompanied by traditional and digital media resources, video presentations on leadership development and simulation exercises. The Guidebooks are dynamic, i.e. they are revised each year so that the materials are continually fresh, up-to-date and accurate. Additionally, community foundations are able to tailor the program to reflect its sponsorship of the program in the community. Its adaptability is a key design component.


Mentors are another distinctive aspect of the model. Mentors are adults whose own passion for and commitment to community philanthropy and civic engagement has been demonstrated. Along with their desire and ability to work with teens in a leadership development endeavor, mentors serve the roles of teacher, advisor, coach, facilitator, enabler, convener and champion of the students and keep them on track in achieving their goals. The program model incorporates the important role of a program coordinator who serves as the overall administrator, in effect, the chief mentor. This person may be a paid employee, an independent contractor or a volunteer depending on the type of human resources available.

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“There’s a radical new idea…that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world. It’s an idea with revolutionary implications… if we take it seriously.”

- Deborah Meier

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This model extends beyond the high school experience into opportunities for the students to continue to engage in community philanthropy as they pursue their academic degree. Building on the knowledge and skills they have gained, students engage in both on-campus and off-campus activities that are driven by the need for leadership requiring skills such as creativity, resourcefulness, organizing, collaborating, fund raising and even grant writing, subject to the scale of the activity. To encourage and support these activities, monetary scholarship awards are made available via a competitive application process. During each of their four summer breaks, the students gather in the community to share their leadership experiences and continue to bond and network with each other.


Each student not only becomes an alumnus of their college upon graduation but also an alumnus of the program as well. Each student joins as a member of a program alumni network whose organizing principles are focused on building mutual support as leaders in philanthropy. As they begin their journey along their early career paths and settle into their communities, these young adults continue to be afforded opportunities to learn and to take on leadership roles. By the time they reach their 25th birthday, they will already have 10 years of hands-on experience in community philanthropy. Over time this will result in a virtual pipeline of next generation leaders for the community foundation. They become the new champions of community philanthropy, hold key community volunteer positions and become future fund holders whose own legacy is manifested in the community

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“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-term risks of comfortable inaction.”

- John F. Kennedy