CFO's Youth Empowerment Project
The Community Foundation of the Ozarks hosted its annual Youth Philanthopy Conference October 14th at Drury University. The conference drew together nearly 200 students and advisors involved in CFO's 31 Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) chapters. KSMU's Mike Smith was there and files this report for Making A Difference Where You Live.
Making a Difference Where You Live. Air Date: 12 November, 2010.
Opens with the voice of Johan Mostert, Professor of Community Psychology at the Assembly of God Theological Seminary: “Philanthropy is a love of humanity. It’s a sense of commitment to humanity”. Mostert, a native of South Africa, was the keynote speaker at the Community Foundation of the Ozarks 2010 Youth Philanthropy Conference held 14 October at Drury University. Attending the conference were over 200 high school students and advisors representing CFO Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) participants from 31 Ozarks schools. Mostert encouraged the students to become “Social Entrepreneurs” by finding and addressing community needs in each small town where they live. The mission of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Youth Empowerment Project “is to empower youth to positively impact their community. This is accomplished through education, service, fundraising, and grant making. The goal of YEP is to develop young philanthropists in the rural Ozarks”. CFO President Brian Fogle says YEP was introduced to the Ozarks in 2001: “We started in Springfield with the thought of getting youth involved in the tradition of philanthropy and service learning, and we gathered a group of donors to set up annual funding to allow them to award grants in their individual schools. We then went to outlying schools like Ozark and Nixa, and today we have 31 schools in the Ozarks with YEP chapters”.The first step in starting a YEP chapter is to establish a fund with the CFO. The person you need to talk to is CFO/YEP Coordinator Bridget Dierks. “If you establish YEP fund, that gives you the opportunity to be a part of the CFO Rural Schools Partnership with its 91 members. After that, CFO gives you $500 in seed money which is typically used for fundraising campaigns or first time grant making. The students solicit grant applications, they have teachers or community leaders apply for these to support youth in their communities and they get that first experience in decision making in which grants to approve for YEP funds”.Brian Fogle says “The key to a successful YEP program is having that champion advisor who is passionate about what those students are doing. The programs that have blossomed and have huge turnouts and are doing great things are the ones led by the advisors who believe in the program”. Karen Miller is advisor to YEP-O, the Youth Empowerment Project in Ozark Missouri at Ozark High School. “We are up to about 50 members now, and try to educate the kids about their responsibility to the community, to take care of it, to value it. Another part of the education is about philanthropy, and the general purposes of that. We have a service project too and if the students can’t participate in ours, they have to give us service hours from something else on their own. We just finished our 8th annual Talent Show at which we which gave out over $1200 in grants. Proceeds from this years show talent show also funds our grants for next year”. YEP-O started in 2004 and since then has distributed over $8600 in grants, mostly to K-12 classrooms and clubs in the Ozark school system. Morgan Davidson and Lauren Doran are sophomores at Ozark High School and members of YEP-O. Morgan says “So many people need things and there’s always not enough money, but we are trying to fundraise more and help as many people as possible. I decided to join because it’s a good environment to start volunteering in the community. I wasn’t comfortable to volunteer on my own and this helps me jump start my philanthropy in my community”. Lauren Doran says “Its fun to help other people and it makes you feel good because you are having an impact. In doing the few things we’ve already done has made me think what other things I can do on my own and to tell others in organizations I belong to and how they can also help the community. It’s something that if you do once, you’ll do it more often. Its fun, we’re helping and giving back all the time”.Bridget Dierks says “The wonderful thing about YEP is that everyone is unique and that gives them each an opportunity to fundraise in ways that are best for them. At the core of YEP is we are working to make young philanthropists in our local communities. We see what’s going on around us and must do something about it. We’re basically teaching kids that being a philanthropist is not difficult, you don’t have to be wealthy, you just go into your community, you find needs, and you try to solve them.” CFO President Brian Fogle says “It’s that grassroots from the students, getting their friends involved, getting others involved who care deeply about their community, those “social entrepreneurs” as Dr. Johan Mostert was talking about, and that’s how it gets started”.For more information on the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Youth Empowerment Project, cfozarks.org. Support for Making a Difference Where You Live on KSMU, comes from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. For KSMU and ksmu.org, I’m Mike Smith.