Jumpstart Our Youth (JOY) teaches our next generation of nonprofit, civic and business leaders how philanthropy supports community needs and goals. Acting as program or corporate giving officers, students research local needs, learn about the nonprofits that address those needs and distribute RFPs, inviting organizations to apply for grant funding.
The students are all enrolled in one of more than 90 school-based Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) chapters across Maine where the JOY program is now part of the annual curriculum. Each chapter receives $1000 to contribute in grants from the JOY funders, and many classes opt to raise additional funds on their own.
As they review applications, students analyze organizational budgets and examine program effectiveness. Often they invite the nonprofit applicants to present to the class. While community service learning is embedded in the JMG curriculum, JOY often creates opportunities for students to volunteer and see the connection between funding and hands-on support.
Each class determines its own process for awarding grants – generally through a combination of discussion, voting and debate. And, at the end of the year, students award big checks to their grantees, where the students, funders and nonprofits have a chance to publicly celebrate the work and learning.
“I think our money went to a really worthy cause. I know some people who are adopted or in foster families and what they go through can be really stressful. It is helpful that people at AFFM are there to help and support them. The JOY project gets us into helping the community and everyone should do it. It was really fun. ” ~ Leanne Kenney, JMG Junior at Spruce Mountain High School
“I think this program is something to be attempted by other states. Teaching young people about philanthropy just makes good sense. Add to that the research, speaking and presentation skills they learn doing this and it cannot help but be the success it is.”
—Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine