GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Teen Grantmaking Council (TGC) of The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro this month awarded $10,000 in grants to 11 youth-lead service projects in Guilford County. TGC is an organization composed of 30 high school students from Guilford County that awards grants to other youth wanting to make a difference in their community. This year, the winning projects focused on food insecurity, STEM education, at-risk immigrant youth, dance education for underprivileged youth, children’s literacy, therapeutic horseback riding and highlighting positive youth through the media.
The grant process is the core of a seven-month program. Beginning in September, TGC meets once a month. Before its members can begin to award grants, they begin by learning what it means to be a philanthropist. They decide what issues they would like to tackle with the funds they are allotted from the Foundation. Then a Request for Proposals is released so that young grant-seekers can apply for funding. TGC members read the proposals and interview grant-seekers before making final decisions about funding.
The focus of a grant celebration March 2 at the Carolina Theatre was to highlight the 11 groups that received funding. Each group was invited to the stage to briefly share their project with the community. Grantees were both middle school and high school students from Guilford County. Members of TGC then handed them a large presentation check.
TGC members also shared their experience with the program. Haley Durbin, a senior at Page High School, shared how her four years at TGC transformed her from shy and timid to a confident public speaker.
TGC is a unique opportunity for youth. Conventional portrayals suggest many teens are lazy, inexperienced and irresponsible, and few would be willing – or trusting enough – to allow teens to grant other teens money to help the community. However, given the opportunity to decide how to fund youth-led initiatives, TGC members rise to the occasion. Understanding the gravity of the responsibility placed on them, they must make difficult decisions on how to use their funds. They gain leadership and teamwork experience by learning to make group decisions through consensus.
TGC allows them to have a voice in their community. Its members represent a diverse group of youth in Guilford County, all of whom wish to make a difference. They continue to come to TGC meetings not for themselves, but for what they can do for others. High School Seniors – for their final TGC event – reflected on their experience, expressing their gratitude for all they have learned from being a part of an incredible group of young people. This year’s celebration was a touching reminder of how young people can be a positive force in their community.
Grantees left the celebration with their large checks and the funds to begin their projects. But what TGC members, parents, educators and community members can take home with them are stories of youth looking for a way to do something meaningful. When empowered with the tools to make a difference, young people will work to building a better community for the future.
By Natasha Derezinski-Choo