“There are several programs around the country that focus on youth philanthropy, but the program we built in Tulsa is truly unique. While most other programs last for a year, ours lasts for three years, which allows us to build a cohesive group and make real impact on young people.
“With YPI, students become experts in a field. They identify a problem that is under-addressed in the teenage population, design a solution, create a project and then implement it. Who knows more about teenage life than high schoolers? It's very empowering to let them identify and solve their own problems.
“Over the years, participants have addressed issues ranging from teenage obesity to the importance of building healthy dating relationships. The YPI process teaches students organizational dynamics, how to execute a project, create functional teams and write an agenda. Our students have made a real impact, not just through the projects they've launched, but through interactions with their friends. YPI has a cascading effect and participants tell me that their friends who are not involved in the program are also getting interested in philanthropy.
“YPI brings together children and education—two of the Foundation's passions. As director of the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), I've had many opportunities to hear Lynn talk about her reasons for starting our program. She tells a story that as a young girl, her father took her along to assist elderly women, or “little old ladies” as she called them at the time, around town. Together, they would help the women with grocery shopping or whatever else needed to be done. That experience had a profound impact on her, and she shares those memories with every YPI group we have. In teaching Lynn the value of giving, her father had a tremendous impact and it is one she wants to pass to the next generation.
“The Foundation's logo is a carob tree, which is a reference to the Talmudic parable about a man who plants a tree for future generations. That's what the Foundation has done in creating YPI. We teach teenagers methods and systems to help those in need. Like the parable, we are planting trees for future generations with the support of the Schusterman Foundation.”
Read more about our work in Tulsa