Community Foundation of Westmoreland County

The beauty of collaborationA group of youth get into the philanthropic spirit.

Olivia Steeley places branches in a contractor bag. She and other Youth Philanthropy Interns clean debris and litter from a Habitat for Humanity construction site.

FUELED BY AN ABUNDANCE OF TEAMWORK, a group of about 30 high school– and college-age students took part in a seven-week program meant to encourage next generation philanthropy. The Youth Philanthropy Internship — a partnership of The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, The Heinz Endowments and the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies — brings together young people from across western Pennsylvania to address the most pressing issues in their communities.

For five weeks, the interns met with local nonprofits and delved into refugee and immigrant assistance, youth advocacy and mentorship, and mental health services. The students developed grant-making priorities, created audio documentaries about their findings and provided more than 400 hours of volunteer service. Then they convened on July 26 at CFWC for a Youth Philanthropy Summit to share ideas. The group recommended $170,000 in grants to nonprofits, with $70,000 for Westmoreland-area programs focused on teenage career development and food and housing insecurity.

The convening ended with an all-hands-on-deck service-learning project at Central Westmoreland Habitat for Humanity, which brings families, volunteers and resources together to build affordable housing in low-income areas. The organization has received funding from CFWC’s Revitalizing Westmoreland grant program for the Weidlein Plan / Barclay Plan neighborhood Beautification Project to provide no-cost residential beautification to owner-occupied and long-term rental homes and the community playground.

The interns cleared debris and litter at a lot that will soon be the site of a new home built by Habitat for Humanity. “This Youth Philanthropy Summit allowed us to learn more about the diversity of issues that other regions close to us are currently facing,” says Olivia Steeley, CFWC 2019 intern. “It was such a fun experience being able to hear everyone’s stories while working together.”

Original story appeared in the Fall 2019 Forum Quarterly