BLING Funds $30,000 in Youth Advocacy Projects

There were impassioned speeches. Poetry. There was boisterous applause, loud whoops and cheers as youth grantees shared their visionary projects for community change. Bright smiles and cascades of laughter lit up the room as the young people triumphantly waved their grant checks in the air.

The Grantee Kickoff is the highlight of BLING’s grant-making cycle. It is the culmination of months of work, beginning in January when Requests for Proposals are sent to schools and youth-serving organizations across San Francisco. BLING youth philanthropists know that many of their peers are new to grant writing — and a key component of their philanthropy work is to support young people in building the critical skills for dreaming up and then writing down their project ideas. So BLING youth offer opportunities for applicants to receive feedback on their proposals.

On a Saturday in April, BLING youth philanthropists spent hours deliberating over grant applications. They had received 18 complete applications and were charged with making the tough decisions about which projects to support. The past month had been spent interviewing applicants — another opportunity for young leaders to practice advocating for their projects — and BLING youth drew on these interviews to present their cases for supporting each project. Conversations were thoughtful, passionate: Which projects promised to have the greatest impact? Which were innovative and reflected outside-of-the-box thinking? Which were most realistic? 

The power of this incredible program is that young people are the ones to determine which projects their communities most need…and doesn’t that just make sense? They are deeply rooted in their communities, actively inhabit community spaces, interact with community members all the time, every day. Wouldn’t they know best what their communities need? That knowledge guides youth philanthropists as they dialogue about applications, letters of support, budgets and interviews — they have a sharp sense of what projects will be effective for the communities in which they will take place.

Ultimately, BLING philanthropists awarded $30,000 to the following projects:

Posing with their grant checks as the Spring 2018 Grantee Kickoff drew to a close, the youth grantees looked relieved: the application process, the interviews, the presentations were finally complete. But this is just the beginning. Over the summer and fall semester, with cash in hand, these youth leaders will be tasked with making their visions a reality.

If you have any questions regarding these decisions, please feel to reach out to Program Coordinator, Natan Sebhatleab, at nsebhatleab@yli.org or by phone at (415) 691-5730.

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