President's reflection: Giving knows no age

by Sherry Ristau, President and CEO

Giving knows no age.

The Community Foundation of the Great River Bend serves thousands of adults, in all stages of life. As they walk out their philanthropic goals, we are also helping set the stage for the donors of tomorrow.

Let me correct that.

We are helping donors of tomorrow become the donors of today. One of the ways we do that is through programs like Teens for Tomorrow (T4T), where the youth of our region are learning firsthand how to effect change in their communities through the giving of time and resources.

T4T is a youth philanthropy group for high school student leaders from Rock Island and Scott counties. It is a program that, early on, was championed by past board member Arlene Elliott. Through an unrestricted charitable trust she started with her husband Herb at the Community Foundation, we were able to create an endowment for T4T that has allowed this program to flourish.

Throughout the year, students immerse themselves in a grant process, learning about community needs, developing grant opportunities, evaluating applications, making site visits, and awarding grants.

The best part? Their work really matters. They award a total of $10,000 to a variety of nonprofit needs in the Quad City area. For these young Quad City students, T4T may be the first cooperative, regional work that they engage in. It is a taste of what purposeful community work looks like. It is an opportunity to engage in conversations about philanthropy, and then take to the streets to do some good.

Participants meet fellow teens from their towns and schools, and learn about how their communities work together, as well as what the strengths and struggles are across our region. They come face-to-face with people they might not encounter day-to-day. These meetings give way to something critical to the future of our region—the chance to work together.

For those in the community, this program helps them make connections with tomorrow's leaders as it provides a very real reminder that young people have a voice and can help. There's no need for our youth to sit on the sidelines when it comes to service in this community.

As leaders in philanthropy, our goal at the Community Foundation is to help instill values of generosity and community in our kids. We are doing that first and foremost by setting the example in our consistent work to partner with leaders of this region who work with organizations, causes and people who have real needs.

Secondly, we are doing that by not only training youth, but also arming them with the confidence and resources to make decisions about where and how to give. The hope is that they will see the tangible, as well as the moral implications giving has on our community, and will continue to give as they grow older.

When we talk about transforming our community through philanthropy, it is imperative to include our young people—for their ideas, for their energy, for their willingness to serve, and their wisdom. We want to partner with them, to inspire, to encourage, and to teach. We want to help them see that generosity is part of the fabric of their regional community.

Programs like T4T are a refreshing reminder that we are all in this together, young and old, forever.

If you would like to learn more about how you can start a charitable trust like Arlene and Herb Elliott did, contact our Development Team at 563/326-2840 or visit our gift planning website here.

"The Community Foundation gave me the opportunity to give to the most people possible."

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Did You Know?

Robert and Hazel Cowles knew they wanted to support the community's needs long into the future, so they turned to the Community Foundation to meet their charitable goals.
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