"There's a lot of negativity displayed in the media toward the Hill District youth, and I wanted to give Hill District youth a chance to be better than the stereotype," says 17-year-old Dynae Shaw, leader of a group of 12 high-school students who together form the first Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).
YPI participants, ages 13-18, come from the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation’s School 2 Career Program
and are looking for young entrepreneurs to support in the Hill, Uptown and West Oakland. The group raised $614 this summer and program co-sponsor McAuley Ministries
, part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, matched it 5 to 1.
"When I found out about the money I was really excited," says Shaw, a Garfield resident and senior at Pittsburgh Obama, "because I really wanted to help the Hill District. Youth should be decision makers. We wanted to make sure it was for bettering the Hill District, so we want little projects that can turn into something big." She envisions youth with artistic talent teaching classes in inexpensive or donated spaces, "or a lawn business to make the Hill District look more appealing," she says.
Grants of $500 or $1,000 will be given to applicants, who must attend a two-hour workshop on Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Hill House Association. The workshop, run by Hill-based UrbanInnovation21
, will help hopefuls devise their business plans and learn to run a thriving business. Applications will be due on Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. via the POISE Foundation
YPI members spent the summer getting acquainted with the grant-making process and are learning now how to evaluate applicants' presentations.
"I hope that it will inspire other youth to stand up and follow their dreams," Shaw says about the YPI program. "This will give them not only the chance to do something they haven't been able to do without the money, but to tell them that people care about their community." Shaw hopes YPI will be done again in the future, and that perhaps it will expand to East Liberty and other neighborhoods.
"We're not looking at overnight change," she adds, "but we hope people will look at the businesses and say, 'I can do that.' We hope they will look for other grants or say they can volunteer in their community. We also hope to inspire other businesses and other foundations to give youth a chance."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Dynae Shaw, Youth Philanthropy Initiative