YGB Sparks Learning and Impact
Student-led board will focus on advocacy and organizing in immigrant and refugee communities for 2018 grants
March 19, 2018
By Sofia Osuna, Youth Grantmaking Board Chair
Most days of the week, I spend my time after school doing homework and dancing for several hours at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. So when I was looking for a volunteer opportunity where I could give back, I was happy to learn about Seattle Foundation’s Youth Grantmaking Board (YGB) from my high school newsletter.
It seemed an ideal way for me to learn about the world of giving and philanthropy and to feel like I was making a widespread difference in my community. And since it meets monthly on Sundays, it fit my tight schedule.
The Youth Grantmaking Board is an incredible opportunity for teens like me to learn about giving through grantmaking and to invest $20,000 from Seattle Foundation into community organizations. I’ve been on the board for the past two years and I appreciated learning about so many nonprofit organizations in Seattle that I wasn’t familiar with before. It’s fascinating to get to know the faces behind the organization and see their grant application come to life. It’s a different way of giving back and for me, it’s a way I’ve been able to touch people with my limited time and school schedule.
This year the board is focusing on a grantmaking theme of advocacy and organizing among immigrant and refugee communities. YGB’s 17 members had many conversations discussing what we felt were the most urgent issues of the Greater Seattle area, and we came to the conclusion that losing our vibrant communities due to political differences or unsafe environments, would be horrible to each of us and is an issue many face in King County today.
In our deliberations, we also concluded that many at-risk immigrant and refugee communities need support to amplify their advocacy and address the systems and policies that deeply affect them. YGB’s grantmaking will prioritize organizations that demonstrate their local involvement by having community representatives as part of their leadership and that approach their work through how it intersects with other issues such as criminal justice reform or economic opportunity. We are excited to evaluate the grant applications and to choose this year’s recipients, who will be announced in late April.
I went into YGB blind; all I knew is that I wanted to reach those people who needed help the most in King County, but knew nothing about philanthropy. I learned more in my first year than I ever thought I could, and made some beautiful connections with some of the organizations we reached out to.
Through YGB, I have learned so much about the Greater Seattle Community, from exploring topics in mental health and personal well-being to learning about the school-to-prison pipeline. During my time in YGB, one thing that has been clear is that so many issues need to be advocated for by students like me and others around King County.
Now, as a senior preparing to graduate from high school and the YGB, I’m happy to recommend the experience to other students.
Children and youth,
Immigrants and refugees,
Youth Grantmaking Board,