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Civic Impact

Pittsburgh Funded: Youth funding youth at Teens 4 Change

Three Rivers Community Foundation takes a chance on non-traditional groups looking for funding,” says Sydney Olberg, who heads TRCF’s Teens 4 Change. And Teens 4 Change has an even bolder vision – it takes a new group of about 15 high-school teens each year and teaches them how to make smart grants to other youth-led or youth-driven organizations that offer services to youth as well.  “So that the youth voice is incorporated into the project,” Olberg explains. “It’s also about the future of grant making and hoping that social justice becomes a part of it.”
 
TRCF focuses its giving on social-justice groups – “changing the inequalities in the system,” Olberg says – so the teens also learn about local social-justice issues before they choose the recipients of their $500 to $2,000 grants.
 
Teens 4 Change’s last round of six grants funded such causes as Educating Teens HIV/AID, Inc. and the PRYSE Academy, a Pitt student summer program for refugee youth  that teaches skills for navigating in society and for appreciating other cultures.
 
This year’s Teens 4 Change program has the help of a past member, now in college. The kids are learning how to write their own Request For Proposals, do outreach to applicants, even design graphics for program advertising.  “It’s good practice for youth to be reaching out to each other and seeing each other as a network,” Olberg notes.
 
TRCF has just received reports from two of last year’s awardees, she says; PRYSE, for one, has doubled its refugee contacts, thanks to the grant.
 
The deadline for groups to apply is April 4 at 5 p.m.  The application is online at the TRCF site, or you can contact Olberg at  (612) 886- 5268 or email here.
 
“It is an empowering experience to apply to youth and to be funded by youth,” she concludes. “We’re a starting point for taking a chance on these youth-led programs.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine (forgood@popcitymedia.com)
Source: Sydney Olberg, Teens 4 Change
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