When I was in elementary school, I set up plenty lemonade and cupcake stands in my neighborhood. Ever the frugal child, I would stow away my hard earned–or squeezed–pennies until I had enough to buy the next Harry Potter book or Barbie that I wanted.
Many of us have these childhood memories in common, but Austin’s Girls Giving Grants program is turning that image up a notch. Leave it to Austin to encourage kids to not only be entrepreneurial, but philanthropic, as well.
More Than Lemonade
Impact Austin founder Rebecca Powers fondly remembers a Christmas when she was surprised by a unique gift from her daughter, Claire. Inspired by the efforts of her mother, who started one of the nation’s largest women-powered philanthropic organizations, Claire donated $100 of her own money to her mother’s organization to give back to the Austin community. This selfless act made Powers realize that even young Austinites are interested in being more involved in their communities. It seems there is more to childhood than lemonade and Barbies.
In 2005, Girls Giving Grants (G3 for short) was born. The organization invited girls in grades 8-12 to learn what it means to be a philanthropist. To join G3, individuals are asked to contribute $100 of their own money collected through babysitting, tutoring, allowance-saving, etc. to a grant that will be awarded to a local nonprofit.
Although the process seems simple, the experience is extraordinary. These girls have the opportunity to take a deep look into their Austin community and understand what it means to be an active member of a growing city.
During the months of October and November, girls take part in training to expand their understanding of community need, monitor grant content quality and experience nonprofit management. With these assessment tools in hand, the girls hit the town, spending the rest of the year visiting the nonprofits whose grant applications they have perused. These experiences give the girls an up-close look at what their grant will be able to do, where their money will go.
Support From Youth, for Youth
Love that my daughter, @a_leissner, is part of @Impact_ATX #GirlsGivingGrants #PayingItForward @Austindiapers pic.twitter.com/VQLMRtpJPn
— Elisabeth Earle (@ElisabethEarle) May 2, 2015
Nonprofits applying for a G3 grant must propose a project that is targeted toward youth in Travis, Hays, Williamson or Bastrop counties. The girls work in committees to review grants and narrow down applications to a handful of finalists. After the training and awareness they have gained, these girls are prepared to make a grownup decision.
Here’s a look into what last year’s grant meant to its recipient, Austin Diaper Bank:
This is the beauty of this incredible program. Who better to know what will positively affect the youth of a community than their fellow youth? By empowering young girls to understand the world around them and see what an impact their awareness and care can make, we are setting up the next generation for success. As adults, we can support causes and nonprofits in Austin, but if we don’t educate future generations about them, interest and awareness will dwindle. These girls are like an insurance policy for the future of our incredible city.
A Warm Welcome for New Austinites
This year, after narrowing down nearly 40 grant requests from organizations all over the city, the girls at G3 decided to award Posada Esperanza.
Posada Esperanza is a homeless shelter for immigrant women and children who are escaping domestic and cultural violence. The $7,000 dollar grant awarded by G3 will help fund an additional AmeriCorps staff member at the shelter. Having worked at the sister shelter of Posada Esperanza, I understand the importance of added staff.
During a day-long site visit at Posada Esperanza, the girls were able to interact with the amazing women who reside within the small cluster of houses that make up the shelter. These women are survivors who have defied odds to make it to the United States and who work daily to adjust to life in Austin far from their original homes. I can only begin to imagine the inspiration the G3 girls drew from these strong women. It’s clear they saw the importance of building a community that honors women of all ages and walks of life.
I can only hope some of the children who live at Posada Esperanza will remember meeting the G3 girls. Who knows; maybe some day one of the girls who lived at Posada Esperanza when the grant was awarded will join G3 and bring this community venture full circle.
Bright Future for Austin, Texas
The leaders of G3 often use the tagline “Changing the Face of Giving,” and this is exactly what they are doing. This organization wants the community to see that a “philanthropist” can be any age and any gender. I hope these young philanthropists can inspire us all to be more involved in our city, even if that just means increasing our awareness about what is going on around us.
Since 2006, G3 has awarded $56,300 to local nonprofits and increased membership to 75 girls a year. Knowing we live in a city with such incredible and motivated young people, I’m excited to see what the future will hold.
Get Involved With Girls Giving Grants
If you know a young girl who will be in grades 8-12 during the 2016-2017 academic year and would like to become involved in Girls Giving Grants, send an email or visit the G3 website. Nonprofits interested in applying for a G3 grant should visit the grant application page.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Is there a kid in your life who’s making a positive difference in the community?