by Quincy Hirt, a
senior at Whitney M. Young
My experience as a part of the Voices: The Chicago Jewish Teen
Foundation through the Chicago Federation has been amazing
one. Voices is a teen philanthropy foundation, and was started by
the Jewish Federation of Chicago in 2005. Each year, a group of around 20
Jewish high school students are selected to participate in the VOICES 101
program. The group learns the ins and outs of professional philanthropy and
grant making and gets to allocate at least $25,000 to affect real change in
areas they care most about both locally and in Israel.
Participants like me who are interested in staying involved
after the initial one-year 101 program can join the VOICES alumni program. The
alumni board has a similar format but relies on the teens to do their own
fundraising to support the causes they are passionate about. As part of
the Alumni Foundation we all contribute
financially, fundraise, and commit time and energy to research, writing of RFPS
and selection of grants. Last year, our alumni group was able to raise
over $40,000, leveraging a matching gift, which we allocated to 6 organizations
in areas such as basic needs, aid to Israel, and medical research. This year our goal is to once again raise and award
$40,000 in grants to benefit Jewish charities in both Chicago and Israel.
On Sunday, February 5th, Voices will be
hosting a Crafts Fair from 8:30-12:30 at Anshe Emet. The crafts fair will
feature 18 crafters selling their wares including handmade jewelry and clothes,
photography, candles, children’s books and toys, natural skincare products and
more as well as activities for kids. There is a $5 suggested
admission fee which will be donated to Voices: The Chicago Jewish Teen Foundation.
Recent research has concluded that hands on philanthropy is what
matters to our generation. We want to be directly engaged. We want to see the
impact of our dollars. We don’t want to just write a check. Our
philanthropy will not be the same as that of our grandparents or our parents.
Knowing this, it is incumbent upon all of us…Jewish communal professionals, lay
leaders, and teen leaders, to create, market, and lead programs that reflect
this desire. Voices engages and empowers teens. We hope you will join us