MARYMOUNT SCHOOL NEWS
Youth and Philanthropy Initiative
Last year Marymount School of New York was the first U.S. school to take part in the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), an international program that includes participants from over 250 schools in Canada and the United Kingdom. According to Sabra McKenzie-Hamilton, a Marymount School religious studies teacher and Class X advisor, “We adopted YPI because it supplemented Marymount’s pre-existing social justice curriculum, augmenting what was already in place.” In the past, Marymount students studied local social service agencies to develop ideas for service projects and created action plans to participate. YPI added a financial literacy component to this model.
With YPI, Class X students are expected to prepare an in-depth study of a local social issue and find a grassroots agency that raises and uses funds to tackle that issue. Once the agency is identified, students must analyze the nuts and bolts of the agency’s budget, just as any informed donor would do. Ultimately the students are determining what it is about a particular agency that attracts people to fund it. As part of the program, students integrate all of their research on the social issue, the agency, and its finances to create a multimedia presentation promoting their “adopted” agency. Just as agencies must do in the “real world,” student teams must compete for funding with other worthy agencies by revealing their passion, telling the most compelling story, and representing an informed position, complete with compassion and creativity.
Approximately 14 groups are distilled into 4 groups that participate in a final round of judging by an independent panel. The best presentation wins a $5,000 grant to the “winning” agency. The process weaves together multiple disciplines including economics, performing arts (public speaking), and religious studies. The program teaches students “to be advocates as they use their voices creatively, bring attention to an issue, and encourage others to join,” reflected Ms. McKenzie‑Hamilton.
Marymount has been guided in its implementation of the program by the vision and generous funding of a parent, who seized upon the potential career opportunities that it offers to women. YPI promotes the Marymount mission by presenting students with the occasion to practice ethical decision-making as they deal with global issues at the local level. #