Including the perspectives of young people remains a challenge for many boards and organizations. The reason is often that young people don’t have experience in board or development work.

To help address that, the Delaware Community Foundation launched Youth Philanthropy Boards in 1999. The foundation created three boards, one in each county of the state, to provide opportunities for high school students to experience serving on a board while supporting community nonprofits.

This year, the In Trust Center provided board training for each of the youth boards, including teaching about the responsibilities of board members, the role of boards, and wise practices to help them facilitate their work.

Each year the student-run boards distribute over $50,000 in grants to dozens of nonprofits throughout the state.

During monthly board meetings, the students articulate a mission for the year seeking to fund nonprofits aligned with the mission. Missional areas include mental well-being, food insecurity, substance abuse, and the negative impact of social media. The Delaware Community Foundation has invited 470 high schoolers into the program since it began.

In Trust Center President Amy Kardash led the youth board training along with Theresa Griffith, the Center’s program manager, using principles culled from the In Trust Center’s work but tailored for teenagers, using characters from TV show The Office to illustrate types of behavior that can be disruptive on a board.

Kardash said she was inspired by the “students’ commitment and their deep knowledge of the issues and needs” in their communities.

“The In Trust Center is pleased to share wisdom from 35 years of supporting boards with those serving in our local community,” Kardash said. “It’s a particular privilege to do so with such dedicated young adults who are eager to serve and learn about board service.”

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