Teens 4 Change: Youth program encourages positive change

Michaela Lies of the Three Rivers Community Foundation talks about Teens 4 Change, a youth program that helps teens better their communities.

Teens 4 Change is a project of the Three Rivers Community Foundation through which young adults actively support organizations that are trying to better their communities. These organizations can fall into one or many categories that focus on social justice issues that include racial justice, disability rights, gender equality, environmental justice, as well as LGBTQ rights.

Teens 4 ChangeBefore learning about Teens 4 Change I had no idea that anything like this existed. Sure, I knew that there were organizations that wrote and awarded grants, but I’ve never seen a student-propelled group such as this. When I was in high school the most I was thinking about writing were my college admissions essays. I didn’t think that anything I did could really make an impact. The students in the program receive training on how to differentiate between the do’s and don’t’s of grant writing, they learn how to do effective outreach so that people know about their initiative, and then open it up for people to apply for grants that range from $500 to $2,000. This incredible group of students is proof that age shouldn’t be an indicator of the effects one person or group can make in their communities.

Since coming to college, I’ve been involved in several planning committees, and I now understand that funding can make the difference between a huge success and a crash-and-burn event. Teens 4 Change addresses social justice issues by awarding funds to organizations that strive to make a difference. The funding from this program aided several groups last year in achieving their goals.

And it doesn’t stop there. Before the current board members are replaced, they carry out a fundraising project to contribute to the funds for the next cycle of grant-writers and grantees. This facet of Teens 4 Change can be thought of as a “Pay it Forward” project that provides a sustainable collection for future grants. 

Initiatives that are youth led or have a high level of youth involvement can apply to be considered for this year’s round of grants. Applications are being accepted until April 4, 2014 at 5 PM EST. For grant applications and more information about the grantmaking process, visit trcfwpa.org.

Learn more about Teens 4 Change and how you can become a member by contacting Sydney Olberg, Youth Program Coordinator, at 612-886- 5268 or trcfcoordinator@gmail.com.

Published February 19, 2014