At left, Harrison County Youth Philanthropy Council (YPC) members learned about what grant proposals should and should not include during the February 2018 meeting. At right, YPC members collected more than 25 new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots in December 2014.

     Philanthropy can be a confusing word to many individuals, especially youth. A modern definition of philanthropy is “private initiatives, for the public good, focusing on quality of life.”

     But what are “private initiatives” and who determines the level of “public good”?  How does someone put these words into action?

     Private or public initiatives and acts of giving can have a large range of interpretations and levels. Most adults view philanthropy as monetary – donations made monthly or annually to their local churches, charities or community groups.

     For youth, philanthropy can be translated very differently. Most youth do not have the financial capacity to give the way adults do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t give or are not focused on improving the quality of life in the communities where they live.

     Youth want to be involved, but sometimes they just don’t know how. The true spirit of giving, the pure “love of humanity,” is often stronger in children than in any other age group. To help educate youth about ways to give, the Harrison County Community Foundation (HCCF) created the Harrison County Youth Philanthropy Council (YPC).

     The YPC, which began meeting more than six years ago, teaches youth how to “give of their time, talents and treasures.” The council is designed to teach skills, to encourage youth to give and serve in their communities, and to make philanthropy a “habit of the heart.” The YPC’s goals are to promote youth development through experiences in philanthropy, to encourage and support community initiatives that are youth driven, to engage youth and adults in partnerships through giving, and to serve for the common good.

     The YPC meets once a month for approximately one hour in the evening during the school year. Meetings are used to educate youth on philanthropists in the county and around the world, to discuss ways they can be active in projects locally, to volunteer for community service projects and to interact with peers who have similar passions for giving back. Youth from all over the county in grades 7-12 are invited to attend.

     The youth have volunteered their time working on a variety of community service projects over the years. They have collected nonperishable food and school items for Harrison County Community Services. They have participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl-A-Thon, worked Repair Affair and helped numerous years with the set up and tear down of Harrison County’s Breast Cancer Awareness event, Pink-a-Palooza.

     Last year, the YPC members spent several months making and donating items, such as  chew toys, for the local animal shelter.

     To assist with the costs of the council’s projects and activities, the YPC holds an endowment at HCCF. The endowment generates five percent in spendable funds each year, which allows the youth to award grants and buy supplies.

     While participation in the council is free, youth are encouraged to donate loose change to the endowment each month to assist in the endowment’s growing potential. Youth also have the option to bring in school supplies, which are collected all year long and donated at the beginning of each school year.

     To read more about the YPC, go to our website at If you or your student is interested in participating in the council, you can contact me at 812-738-6668 or at

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