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A Legacy of Youth Philanthropy: Teen Trust Celebrates 25 Years

September 6, 2019

What can a group of high school students do for their community? For 25 years, CFNEIA's Teen Trust program has been answering that question and the answer is a lot. Over the more than two decades, $233,723 has been granted to nonprofit agencies by Teen Trust and 570 youth have been engaged in philanthropy through this program. The program was started in 1994 with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with a goal to prepare youth to be trustees of their communities by learning about and engaging in philanthropic activities. These activities empower and challenge high school students to address, identify, and seek solutions to community needs while building a sense of social responsibility. The group of teens is led by a student director, a local college student who organizes and guides the students' activities.

"The impact of the Teen Trust program is much more than the dollars these students grant each year," said Tom Wickersham, CFNEIA Program Director and Teen Trust staff advisor. "The youth who engage in this program are challenged to examine their community and participate in ways they can make a difference. It leaves a long-lasting impact on their lives."

Each year, the students are entrusted with $10,000 to distribute to nonprofit programs and projects that address community needs and are within criteria that the students determine as priorities. This unique philanthropic training program illustrates how teenagers can be vital community contributors now, as well as valuable leaders in the future. Going into the 25th year of the program, this year's group of 24 teens from Black Hawk County high schools will have an increased amount of $15,000 to grant to nonprofits serving Black Hawk County and will again leave their mark on the community.

Sunni (Swarbrick) Kamp was a member of Teen Trust in 2001-2002 and also served as Student Director. She now serves as Executive Director of the Story County Community Foundation (Ames, Iowa). “Teen Trust was one of the most rewarding experiences. I was so impacted by my experience as a trustee, and I encourage any young high school student to seek this out. This is such a unique and extraordinary experience,” said Sunni. “I will forever be thankful for having the opportunity to serve as the Teen Trust Student Director. Being in this leadership position helped mold and shape who I am today, and I am proud that we were able to make such an important impact.”

More information about the Teen Trust program can be found at www.cfneia.org/teentrust