How SVP Minnesota is Giving Young People a Voice in Philanthropy

SVPI 08/01/2023
Affiliate Spotlight

Creating a space for youth voices

Imagine a world where young people have a say in how their communities are shaped. Where their voices are heard and their ideas are valued. Where they have the power to make a difference.

That’s the world that SVP Minnesota is working to create. With their Youth-Led Grantmaking Taskforce, they’re giving young people a voice in the decision-making process. By shifting the power dynamic and centering the community in their funding practices, they’re breaking boundaries and creating a space for youth voices. And the results are inspiring.

The Youth-Led Grantmaking Taskforce

SVP Minnesota focuses on funding groups that serve ‌youth in Minnesota. And for this taskforce, rather than relying on an application process, they opted for a trust-based approach. As a result, their selection process for funding was quick and efficient.

The Taskforce included thirteen young people from across the Twin Cities Metro Area. They were tasked with identifying the most pressing issues facing their peers. After research and discussion, they came up with three key issues: youth homelessness, mental health needs among minority communities, and body autonomy.

“It felt really good being involved in something that has a real impact on my local community! It can feel overwhelming to know where to start with giving back, but the taskforce felt like a great way to start.”
Taskforce Member, SVP Minnesota

“It was great to see the young leaders in action during our Youth-Led Grantmaking Taskforce. They are the most proximate to the issues facing young people in our community and it was inspiring to see their visual representations of the most pressing challenges they see today.”
Deb Salls, Executive Director, SVP Minnesota

The Taskforce chose Transforming Generations, an organization that supports victims and survivors of gender-based violence, as the recipient of their grant. Transforming Generations works with Hmong and Southeast Asian youth around gender and queer justice programming and mental health and wellness. Along with receiving a grant, as an SVP MN Investee organization, Transforming Generations can attend our Executive Director cohort meetings and gain access to learning opportunities with other nonprofit leaders. 

“The Taskforce found an organization I wasn’t familiar with but is doing dynamic work. In the end, the organization they picked deals with all three of the issues they uncovered, at some level. It was a really great process.”
Deb Salls, Executive Director, SVP Minnesota

“It’s important to focus on areas where there are injustices and topics that are often overlooked. That’s why I really love the organization we picked because it focused on counseling for transgender youth and youth having a hard time coming out to their families. And, in the Southeast Asian community transitioning and coming out isn’t often talked about in their culture. So it was really cool to be able to serve the community in that aspect.”
TyTeeona Howard, Taskforce Member, SVP Minnesota

Why Trust-Based Philanthropy Matters

Traditional philanthropy has often been characterized by a top-down approach, in which grantmakers make decisions about how resources should be allocated without consulting with the communities most impacted. Trust-based philanthropy offers a different approach. By simplifying the grantmaking process, doing the research upfront, putting trust in the organizations, and removing extra roadblocks, grantmakers can make sure that resources are allocated in a way that is truly equitable and impactful.

“Trust-based philanthropy is about making sure that the people at the table making the decisions are the people who are in the community and now the work best.”
– TyTeeona Howard, Taskforce Member

The achievements of the Youth-Led Grantmaking Taskforce have been instrumental in establishing the foundation for future youth-led philanthropy endeavors at SVP Minnesota. 

“This was an empowering team that worked not only to help those in our community, but to help educate, explore, and learn new things we may not have learned otherwise.”
Taskforce Member, SVP Minnesota

The impact of SVP Minnesota’s youth-led initiatives doesn’t stop with the Taskforce. TyTeeona Howard, a Taskforce member, is the Data and Engagement Manager for the youth mentoring nonprofit, Bolder Options. She encourages other organizations to seek out youth leaders, show up in their spaces, and explore new leadership opportunities.

“A lot of young people are in a space where they want to make a difference. They just don’t know how. Organizations need to seek out those youth. Show up in their spaces, like public schools, Youth Clubs and Afterschool programs, places where there are youth leaders ready to explore new leadership opportunities.”
TyTeeona Howard, Taskforce Member

How You Can Get Started

To amplify the impact of youth-led philanthropy, it’s essential to foster an environment that encourages and supports young individuals. Here are some ways you can get started:

  • Partner with nonprofits that share your values: SVP Minnesota partnered with Youthprise, a Minnesota-based Nonprofit that has ​​raised and distributed over $50 million to support youth development initiatives statewide, emphasizing support to organizations led by people of color and small organizations that were doing excellent work but their growth was stifled because they lacked financial support from institutional funders.
  • Find models of success: SVP Minnesota built its Taskforce curriculum based on the Youthbank Model. YouthBank is an adaptable method of involving young people in community activities. It’s a powerful way to shift power to youth and demonstrate the value of participatory grant-making at a grassroots level. YouthBanks are funds run by young people to support practical, youth-led projects that address issues that matter to them. These projects improve their communities.
  • Incorporate youth voices into your organization’s decision-making: Engaging with and involving youth in decision-making processes can help ensure that their voices and perspectives are heard. This can be done by including young people on boards, committees, and other decision-making bodies.

Interested in learning more about establishing a youth taskforce? Connect with SVP Minnesota to find out more.  

Together, we can reimagine giving!

Statistics sourced from YouthBank International

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