The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa's Teen Trust program is a model for youth philanthropy. The 2019-2020 season marked the 25th year of the program, and last year's diverse group of 24 students from area high schools had $15,000 to grant (increased from $10,000) to 501(c)(3) nonprofit agencies serving Black Hawk County. Using a grant application system, site visits, and training seminars, the Trustees worked as a team to decide which organizations to assist through financial aid and volunteerism. The program began in 1994 and is led by a student director, a local college student who organizes and guides the students' activities.
Teen Trust was created with a vision in mind -- to prepare youth to be "trustees of their community." At the heart of becoming a trustee means finding a way for youth to learn about and also actively practice philanthropy. To that end, the mission by which the Teen Trust program operates is: To provide youth an opportunity to develop philanthropic behaviors, leadership and stewardship skills, and volunteer experiences.
Teen Trust Project Goals
- Nurture a cohesive, enthusiastic network of youth who are inspired to share their gifts of service with others.
- Provide a learning environment in which youth are primarily responsible for the allocation of funds to support projects addressing community issues.
- Promote innovative, practical solutions to community problems through youth as project developers.
- Entrust youth with legitimate authority to decide and direct the future of their community.
- Engage youth immediately as community trustees, acknowledging that they are currently active citizens, not just leaders of the future.
Teen Trust Accomplishments
- Over $230,000 in grants to support local charitable projects since Teen Trust's inception.
- Nearly 600 local students trained in philanthropy and trusteeship.
- National recognition by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as one of the most important grants they've made in their 75-year history (www.wkkf.org).
- Countless lives changed.