Future Philanthropists Program
The Future Philanthropist Program provides high school students with the opportunity to learn how to be philanthropists and grantmakers. With this unique program, high school students learn the art, science, and business of philanthropy and make decisions about the distribution of $50,000 in grant funds to worthy local nonprofit organizations. The students also evaluate the impact of their decisions on youth issues as a result of the grants they distribute and learn to raise funds in an effort to maintain this grant-making effort.
We are pleased to introduce the Class of 2024 Junior Cohort. The group includes Vilas Advani, Emerson Amstutz, Lucas Crossman, Josh Curry, Nellie Dargis, Natalie Dauphinee, Sonja de Jong, Nora Derks, Sahiba Dhillon, Roan Doody, William Healy, Zoe Hendrickson, Phyllis Kreiter, Maria Kunigk-Bakalar, Kate Lewis, Avery Lucas, Ashley Mandell, Kathryn Meister, Gabriella Morales, Sebastian Mrotzek, Anthony Ortiz-Ferrer, Brady Sorg, Beatrice Spell, Shea Sturtevant, Max Timchak, Saskia van der Meer, Mara Vogen, Olivia Wangerow, Gabrielle Williams, and Josh Wood.
The Future Philanthropists Program has four goals:
- To instill knowledge and understanding of the important role of philanthropy in the community and in society.
- To give teens a leading role as primary decision makers in the important process of allocating grants to charitable organizations.
- To teach teens the art and science of fundraising in order to plan and implement activities that result in charitable contributions.
- To provide opportunities for teens to express and demonstrate volunteer leadership activities in the community.
Juniors from Oak Park-River Forest High School, Fenwick High School, Trinity High School and St. Ignatius College Prep are eligible to apply. Adult mentors from the community whose own philanthropy, fund-raising, and volunteer activities are notable provide guidance to both the junior and senior cohorts. Learn more in our program brochure.
Grant awards are made by the junior cohort in the spring of each year at the Future Philanthropists Program Capstone event, and the fund-raising successes of the senior cohort are announced at this time as well. Every dollar raised goes back into the Future Philanthropist Fund held at the OPRF Community Foundation to help grow and maintain the grant-making by the next group of juniors in the following year. Everyone is invited to contribute to this endowed fund that will continue to provide the resources to educate future philanthropists, while making an impact now to benefit young people in our community.
FPP Class of 2022
The senior cohort is tasked with raising money each year so that the FPP Endowment Fund can continue to grow and provide more grants to nonprofits to support their important services. After their year-long fundraising campaign, the seniors were able to raise a total of $127,647. In response to the significant increase in the needs of area nonprofits due to the effects of COVID-19, they also awarded an additional $25,000 in grant funds.
FPP Class of 2023
The junior cohort received requests for grants from 26 community organizations, and after careful and diligent consideration, awarded a total of $50,000 in grants to 9 different nonprofit organizations in Oak Park, River Forest and bordering communities including the Austin Neighborhood. In combination with the senior cohort contribution, the 2022 grant awards reached a record $75,000 in total giving.
In April of 2022, junior and senior FPP students, along with their mentors, organized a drive to collect donations for Ukrainian refugees following the Russian invasion of their homeland on February 24. In partnership with Pete’s Market store in Oak Park, FPP teens greeted shoppers for three days at the door and gave them a list of items that are in great need to Ukrainian refugees such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, diapers, baby products, feminine hygiene items, first aid/medical products, school supplies and more. Shoppers who added these items to their shopping list then donated them upon exiting the store. Many shoppers also gave cash donations which helped defray the cost of air transport. 73 boxes of supplies were then shipped to Ukranian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine where students unpacked, sorted and distributed the goods to those in need.
Why FPP Works So Well
By Maille O’Donnell
To me, the most exciting and empowering piece of this program was being trusted to effectively allocate real money in real time by collaboration with my cohort and working with adult mentors who really made me feel like my voice, as a 16-year old, mattered. Yes, there are a lot of youth empowerment programs out there, but this is one that truly “walks the talk” in terms of actually giving students the sole responsibility to allocate philanthropic capital and to raise significant amounts of money. It goes beyond just training them to do something sometime in the future, like many other youth leadership programs.
It also offers a connection to mentors and an alumni network of FPP graduates. Things like having mentors serve as professional references in some capacity with college or job apps and alumni networking that play a huge role in helping someone hit the ground running in the professional world are really valuable.
It helps develop people skills. This actually starts with the FPP interview for selection into the program and extends to working with your cohort, doing site visits and collaborating with community partners for fundraising. For many people, myself included, conducting the site visit interviews was the first time I was placed on the other side of an evaluation process. As a result, I found the job search process less intimidating and found it pretty easy to network in college. I can’t say that all of that was due to FPP but being able to work on the same level as professionals while you’re a student to evaluate grant requests, organize fundraising and do community service definitely prepares you for future professional situations.
Maille has worked at the Global Food Institute based in Washington, DC since graduating from the University of Maryland. She is a member of the FPP Class of 2015 and she sits on the Three Pillars Initiative board of directors which is directing the expansion of the FPP model program in communities across the country.
The Role of Philanthropy Mentors
Adults serve as role models for young people in a variety of ways. We participate as volunteers for nonprofit organizations, as directors on boards and advisory groups and as donors to charitable and civic causes. These are ways we demonstrate our commitment to give something back to the community in order to make it stronger and more sustainable for generations to come. These are behaviors we strive to model for our young people.
This demonstration and modeling of philanthropy is an integral part of the Future Philanthropist Program. The purpose of the Program is to bring active adult community leaders and donors together with young people interested in experiencing a “real life” learning-by-doing philanthropic immersion. Through this mentoring role we hope to help young people attain a higher level of knowledge and understanding of the role of philanthropy in the community as they reach adulthood.
"The students that I have worked with, the things they accomplished, and most importantly the things that I personally learned about philanthropy will be long remembered. I loved the opportunity to be a part of this one-of-a-kind program."
– Cindy Milojevich, former mentor
The FPP Post
Our quarterly publication provides insights into current program activities and philanthropic trends, and offers news and stories from our alumni and mentors.