Youthprise featured in MCF’s Giving Forum – “Philanthropy: Defined by and for Youth”

Published on February 15, 2013 | Written by

Philanthropy: Defined by and for Youth

MCF Giving Forum
Wokie Weah, Marcus Pope | February 01, 2013

Many philanthropists and nonprofits address the needs of vulnerable populations by providing food, shelter, education, health care and other essential goods and services.

But as we develop initiatives and funding strategies to reach those “in need,” we sometimes forget to address a primary and practical question: How much representation and influence do the individuals and communities served have in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs meant to help them? If we don’t answer the question, our targeted populations may not be adequately invested in solutions we fund and deliver, crippling their success, as well as our ability to achieve desired outcomes.

With a goal of better outcomes, Youthprise is using a new model that strives to authentically engage youth in all levels of our operations. Established in 2010 by The McKnight Foundation, Youthprise’s mission is to champion learning beyond the classroom so all Minnesota youth thrive. Our primary focus areas are systems building and innovation in youth engagement.

We believe we must engage our constituents – underserved and under-engaged youth – in the process in order to achieve strong outcomes that are relevant and meaningful to youth and their diverse communities. In addition, we know that any progress we achieve will not be sustainable unless we genuinely engage youth in the change efforts.

Does an Organization Look Like Its Constituents?

We actively seek to work with and fund organizations that share our philosophy. Consequently, we ask prospective grantees about their organizations’ staff and board composition. We also ask how they involve youth in their decision-making.

An organization’s responses offer an impression of how it defines its commitment to the underserved. Does the commitment rest solely in serving the target community? Or does the organization truly embrace a culture of diversity, as evidenced by an intentional and authentic commitment to the inclusion of these groups in the organization’s fabric.

Having a diverse staff and board reflective of the target population is a crucial step in creating an authentic culture of inclusivity. But it is only a step, and it certainly does not guarantee cultural competence. Read the full article here. 


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