Students at Red Deer school learn to give back

Youth in Philanthropy program introduced at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School

Philanthropy became a “buzzword” at a Red Deer school in the 2017-2018 school year.

St. Francis of Assisi Middle School Grade 9 leadership students learned the value of giving back and making a difference through the Red Deer & District Community Foundation’s Youth in Philanthropy program.

“By teaching our youth what type of charities are in our community, we are also teaching them the type of social concerns that exist in our community, so it gives them an early experience with taking care of their community,” said Erin Peden, coordinator of grants and administration at Red Deer & District Community Foundation.

“The more they know now the stronger they’re going to be in the future in terms of being fantastic citizens – philanthropists.”

The program was initially introduced to a handful of students around October 2017. It soon gained popularity and became part of the Grade 9 leadership curriculum. This year between 60 to 90 students took part in the program.

Peden said the program introduced students to Red Deer charities and the type of work they do.

Students were given $500 from the foundation to donate to charities of their choice.

The group decided to split the money between Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta, Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre in Central Alberta and Youth HQ.

Peden said she was proud to see students engage and empathize.

“They all said they wanted to help other kids.”

With the YIP program, students also gained financial literacy, learning about endowment funds for instance. They learned about the annual interest collected on endowment funds.

“That means every year there will be money to give to charities.”

Students were also part of a social engagement project that benefited various charities such as the Red Deer Food Bank, Safe Harbour Society, and Women’s Outreach.

“They picked several charities and they did a drive,” said Peden.

The YIP program will expand next year teaching the same values to students at St Joseph High School.

Next year, the YIP program students will learn about fund development. The plan is to get students to raise about $250, which the Red Deer & District Community Foundation will match, said Peden. The $500 will then go into YIP endowment fund to make the program sustainable in the future.

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