Christian Scott Jones' idea of philanthropy turned on a dime when he became a member of the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend's youth philanthropy group, Teens for Tomorrow (T4T). "The program shows that philanthropy is more than just giving out money to organizations," he said. "It is about helping out your community and improving the lives of the people that live within it."
T4T has made the philanthropy process very real for Jones, a 17-year-old junior at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa. "I didn't know I would learn so much about my community and the philanthropy process. I have learned about the people and nonprofits within the Quad Cities that have such a major effect on the community," he said. "In addition, I met some very cool and unique people along the way."
Elizabeth Moore, 18, a senior from Rock Island High School in Illinois, is one of those "very cool people." She said T4T is a place where she has influence, power and responsibility to help people. "Now, I've seen firsthand what the nonprofits in our community can do, and I've learned what it's like to be on both sides of the grant process," she said.
Moore said the process is exciting because they have real decisions to make. This spring, they will award a total of $10,000 to a variety of nonprofit needs in the Quad City area. The Community Foundation staff guides, but is hands-off, when it comes to decision-making.
"We're the ones doing the work," Moore said. "This is why we learn so much about the real world."
Jade Bullock, 16, a junior at Central High School in Davenport, Iowa, said her eyes were opened by being part of the program. "Philanthropy is not only about the donation of money to good causes," she said. "It also has to do with spreading one's morals and beliefs for the good of others. Being a philanthropist has to do with analyzing an issue and finding the best solution for that problem."
Bullock said it is empowering to make decisions that positively impact the community, especially because it is done with a group of like-minded teens. "I enjoy being with a group of people who all have similar opinions on community issues," she said.
Jones said he has been impacted by the up-close look at local nonprofits. "What I love most about T4T is going out in the community and meeting different nonprofits in person," he said. "We do this through site visits in April. After reviewing the different applicants, we go to meet them in person. This allows us to see the potential impact we can have on the organization as well as the results they are currently achieving. This makes the whole philanthropy process very real."
The program has helped shape his future plans. "This program has changed me forever," Jones added. "I will be active in philanthropy from this point forward, and help out local nonprofits within my community, wherever that may be."
One of the organizations selected last year was the Augustana Center for Speech, Language, and Hearing. It was a favorite for Jones because of his own childhood speech problems. "Having gone through therapy successfully myself, I knew that the money was going to a good place where children could change for the better," he said. "I knew it would leave an impact on many people."
Jones said he is convinced that generosity can help transform any community. "T4T has taught me that donating can have a lasting and major impact on the community itself," he said. "Without philanthropy, many of the fantastic organizations within the community could not operate. I have seen and now understand the significance and importance of this work. For this reason, it will always be part of my life."
When you create a fund at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, you have an opportunity to support programs like Teens for Tomorrow. Contact our Development Team at 563/326-2840 or visit our gift planning website here to learn the ways you can leave a legacy today, for tomorrow.