For many years, researchers believed that students learned to be generous at home, but new research suggests that the students participating in meaningful charity work at school may be more apt to volunteer, give, and get involved with philanthropy in other ways after they graduate. In fact, 50 percent of college students polled had no idea about their parents’ volunteer efforts. Several successful programs are leading the way in efforts to teach children to connect with important volunteer positions in their communities and beyond.
An example of students making a difference
During the recent Hurricane Harvey disaster, students at Panther Creek High School in Cary, North Carolina, wanted to help victims. Representatives of the 2,700 person student body in North Carolina contacted another school in Valera, which only has 160 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, but which was connected to Panther Creek through sports. While these schools were not directly impacted, the two schools volunteered to work together to collect supplies for the hurricane victims. Within ten days, the students had filled a large trailer they sent to Texas.
More formal programs
Other programs are much more formal. For example, over 13,500 students have participated in Michigan Council on Foundations classes while in high school. Currently, 1,500 students are involved with nearly a hundred different grantmaking organizations. Youth involved in this program give away $1.5 million annually. The original program was started by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Meanwhile, youth in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky can choose to participate in a Pay It Forward program. Each student must complete at least fifteen hours of volunteer work. Then, the students get together and award one deserving organization a $2,500 grant annually.
In Massachusetts, many students are involved with The Foundation for MetroWest. Their executive director says that she is amazed at how students become more responsible for happenings in their communities, develop leadership skills, and become more loving because of their involvement.
Even students who come from families who already have a family foundation set up can benefit from participating in these programs. The Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation annually brings many of these students to Disneyland where they can meet together to discuss what their family foundations are doing to benefit the world.
While each program is unique, nonprofit directors and educators believe that these programs are making a difference because students can see how they’re changing someone’s life. Once they make a human-to-human connection, then it is no longer about themselves, but what they can do to help. This attitude often carries over after they graduate from school.