Youth in Philanthropy participants pursue community support through pandemic


The Winnipeg Foundation’s Youth in Philanthropy (YiP) program offers young people in Winnipeg the chance to refine their community engagement and leadership skills, while learning about the non-profit sector through philanthropy. A typical year sees 30 individual YiP committees receive mentorship and a $5,000 grant from The Winnipeg Foundation. Participants are tasked with allocating the grant to deserving charities and non-profits in the city through regular meetings, site visits, and a deliberation process.

YiP committees have been running a bit differently during the past two years, due to COVID-19, but remain dedicated to their purpose. Youth participants typically visit different charities and non-profits to learn about their work before making final decisions about where the grants will go. While some site visits were able to continue as scheduled others were moved online, with several committees opting to run their entire year virtually.

Despite these challenges, the 2021/2022 season saw 23 YiP groups disperse $115,000 to organizations who work to serve and support Winnipeggers. Twenty of the YiP groups are based in high schools, while the remaining three operate out of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre.

YiP is one of several Foundation programs managed by Mercy Oluwafemi, The Winnipeg Foundation’s new Youth Engagement Specialist. Oluwafemi participated in YiP as a high school student and credits the experience with kickstarting her leadership skills and introducing her to community work. She went on to explore her interest in the non-profit sector by undertaking an internship at the Heart and Stroke Foundation through The Foundation’s Summer Internship Program (SIP). Oluwafemi, who had planned to go into medicine, says the opportunity changed her path dramatically, introducing her to the “business side” of the non-profit sector.

Each year, students mark the end of a successful season of learning and charitable giving through YiP’s Spring Celebration. This event brings YiP committees together to reflect on their experiences while listening to speakers from community organizations, enjoying activities and celebrating their achievements with some sweet treats. This year’s celebration — “Walking Together” — took place on June 2, in-person for the first time since 2019!

This story is featured in the Spring 2022 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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