How to Be a Blessing: In Praise of the Growing Youth Philanthropy Movement

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY DONYALE REAVIS, ESQ. (EPIP Philadelphia Steering Committee Member) “Charity begins at home” was one of my paternal grandmother’s favorite lines—my Ga-Ga had a heart of gold for every creature on two or four feet she ever met.  Two generations removed from the days her Cherokee ancestors were chased from their eons-old home in North Carolina for the tear-stained (actually, it was blood-stained) trail to Oklahoma, my grandmother taught me and the rest of my kin (fellow grandchildren of hers) about the importance of giving back.  Spellbound, we’d soak up stories of how neighbors protected one another as they hid in the mountains to avoid the country-long trek and remain in the vicinity of their ancestral burial grounds. Excitedly, I poured flour and kneaded dough for biscuits, Johnny cakes and frybread we distributed among aging community elders.  And nightly I’d lick my buttery hands and remember to thank the universe for so many blessings…most of all for the ability to be a blessing to others. In Spring 2012, as a new EPIP-Philly board member, I first learned of a chapter program that had gone really well…involved high school aged students in Philly public schools, and members of the philanthropic community coming together to give back.  As the group reminisced, a departing steering committee member urged us not to lose the connection with youth, not to squander the hopes we raised for many who prior to that event, had little belief in their individual value, in their ability to “be a blessing” to others in their community through youth philanthropy. In that spirit, this month’s blog post celebrates the work of youth philanthropists, because we already know that philanthropy is about so much more than money.  To integrate philanthropic traditional values with the principles of youth development, to find that sweet spot, is to plant fortified seeds of possibility, triggering a wellspring of blossoming charitable spirit in our youth, our future community game changers.  Ga-Ga would be so proud… To read more about best practices in youth philanthropy, follow here: