Martin Luther King Jr. Day was BLING Decision Day, continuing the social justice legacy

“And one day we must ask the question ‘Why are there 40 million poor people in America?’ When you ask that question you are raising questions about the economic system, about distribution of wealth.” – MLK, Jr.

On January 18th, BLING (Building Leaders in Innovative Giving) did something powerful to continue MLK’s vision by holding their decision day to invest in our youth and our communities. During this BLING funding cycle, the youth philanthropy group received 22 grant applications from youth-led projects across San Francisco. The submitted youth proposals were guided by social justice issues that included: mental health; food security; bullying; financial justice; microaggressions; gentrification; single mother support networks; violence and safety; restorative justice; and gender norms. BLING youth interviewed youth from all of the projects to get the best picture of what they are trying to accomplish.

At this final and decisive convening, BLING excelled in demonstrating their philanthropic expertise by screening proposals based on need, innovation, budget, methodology, expected outcomes, and sustainability, among other areas. In this process, each BLING member was responsible for thoroughly presenting two to four youth projects to their BLING peers, YLI staff, CEO Jonathan Marker, and YLI Board member Brandon Brown.

After 7 hours and two voting rounds, BLING reached their final deliberation: they would fund a total of 8 projects with their $30,000 budget. BLING is a youth philanthropy program comprised of 7 youth leaders who provide funding for projects that address inequity. BLING is one of three youth philanthropy programs making grants with public dollars generated by the San Francisco Children’s Fund.

At the end of their all day BLING Decision Day, the youth group reflected on their role as social justice philanthropists making equitable funding decisions that will impact young people across San Francisco. Abdul, one of the seven youth philanthropists, noted that their impact was real and that through their careful decisions, “We are changing lives.”

Stayed tuned to find out which projects got funded!

Read BLING Board Member Michelle’s testimony on BLING Decision Day! 

DSC_0062“On BLING Decision Day, we proceeded to make decisions based on how well we thought projects would help our community. During this process, there were disagreements on selected  projects and on whether they should be fully or partially funded. Overall, this gave us the opportunity to dig deeper  to make sure we didn’t miss any aspect of the projects. We all felt strongly about certain ones and wanted to make sure everyone understood our point of view and our reasoning behind it. 

Participating in BLING has helped my leadership by showing me how important support and feedback are in order to make a decision. As a leader, you must learn to be supported by your team but also to have disagreements with them. Disagreement makes decision-making interesting because we have a larger goal in mind: social justice philantrophy. Social justice

philantrophy is the ability to support others into making change in our community through grants like BLING’s.”

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