The end of the school year is a time for students to reflect and celebrate. For students participating in Give Next, a school-based youth grantmaking program for middle and high school students in Larimer County, the end of the school year is also a time for students to award funding to local nonprofits.
Students start the school year talking about issues that are important to them and learning more about local community issues. They seek input from the full student body and ultimately decide on a topic to focus on for their grantmaking. Often, a student will share with Give Next peers first-hand experience with an issue. This year, one student at Rocky Mountain High School courageously shared her story about the impacts of family drug addiction with her group and publicly at the school’s award ceremony. She felt connected to her peers and found power in her experience.
Students write a mission statement related to their topic and engage in powerful and often difficult conversations when making their final decisions about which nonprofits to fund. After a year of research, site visits, and interviews, students are passionate about their chosen topic and the nonprofits who work on it. Give Next student Madison shared, “you might not end up donating to your favorite or focusing on your greatest passion. You must balance what you like versus what is better for the community.”
Donors Shift Power to Youth
Local businesses, foundations, and individuals become classroom donors by providing each participating school with $5,000 to award nonprofits that align with the group’s mission statement. With the financial support of these donors, students design and manage their own grantmaking programs.
Through this process, donors shift power to youth to decide what is important to them, build understanding of complex social issues through research and engagement with local nonprofits, and connect youth to each other and their community, where they contribute and belong.
This year, 29 schools made 86 grants worth $170,000 to 40 Larimer County nonprofits. Of the total grantmaking, $145,000 came from local donors. Students fundraised an additional $24,878 thanks in part to a $10,000 fundraising match from Alpine Bank. Since 2012, Give Next students have awarded nearly a million dollars to more than 100 nonprofits in the community.
Give Next is made possible by the support and dedication of students, teachers, classroom donors, local nonprofits, district leadership, and the Give Next Advisory Committee. Primary program implementation partners are Bohemian Foundation and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado.