Last month Devon Community Foundation were thrilled to be joined by two of its youngest panel members yet, as representatives gathered to undertake the most recent round of decision making for the National Programme, “#iwill.”
The #iwill campaign was conceived in 2013 to encourage youth social action, and became supported later by the #iwillFund. The #iwillFund is financed by the government and the National Lottery, and distributed by a long list of partners including Mumsnet, Children in Need, Sport England and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. UKCF, the Community Foundation network flag-bearer, receive the greatest share, due to the localised level of work that Community Foundations do.
To date, with their allocation and the contribution of match funders, Devon Community Foundation have been able to distribute over £84,000 to small groups, charities and organisations supporting youth social action in Devon.
Deciding which applications are viable for funding is an important part of the role of Community Foundations, and it requires impartiality, fairness and foresight. Devon Community Foundation also feel, that where possible, it is also important to elect panel members that represent the interests of the fund. Jo Hunt, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at DCF put a call out to their local high school with exactly that, and the decisions on the next round of #iwill funding in mind.
“The #iwill programme is young person focussed and by default warrants including young people in the decision- making process. The existing panel was a strong one, consisting of members with a range of experience and knowledge but with one notable concern, no young people! Keen to address this, we contacted the local High School to see if they would work with us in facilitating young people on our panel. They were pleased to accommodate the request and we were delighted to welcome Micah and Imogen.” -Jo Hunt
The proceedings proved both Imogen and Micah, who are both 15, to be enormous assets. They were able to point out angles to proposals that might not have been considered by their senior counterparts and provide valuable insights into the possible thoughts and reactions of the #iwill fund beneficiaries, as well as giving their own personal opinion and reactions.
The contributions of the two teens (that did not exclude a strong view on financial propositions too), their questions, arguments, considerations and deliberations were saluted by the other panel members, one of whom mistook them for much older A-Level students, stating “Your maturity is fantastic!”
“Their contributions to the discussion and decisions added a new dimension to the panel and provided us with confidence that young people can make valuable contributions, and supported our belief that they should be involved in the grants process.” Jo Hunt.
Micah and Imogen also both seemed to gain from the experience. They were happy to see applications they championed go through and answered a firm yes at the question of doing it again, offering thanks and assurances that they’d enjoyed themselves in this process, as well as showing interest in the work of the Foundation as a whole.
This collaboration is a welcomed link to the future. Both locally, for Devon Community Foundation, where engagement with a younger audience has proved extremely positive, and for the community wellbeing ethos of our foundations in general – as it helps nurture a generation of confident, conscientious young people, driven to help everyone in their communities lead better lives.
To learn more about how you could support the #iwillFund and youth-led groups in your local area by match funding please contact our philanthropy team. 01884 235887 firstname.lastname@example.org