Youth philanthropists present grants to dozens of local charities

Students from the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Youth program donate nearly $18,000 to charities

Student representatives of the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Youth philanthropy program presented almost $18,000 in grants to 18 local charities last week.

The Vital Youth program gives students, from seven different southern Vancouver Island high schools, hands-on experience in philanthropy and community development.

Each school is allocated $2,500 annually to donate to federally registered charities of their choice. Students research potential charities, conduct interviews, and visit the sites beforehand.

“The size of the grants is relatively small but the impact of the program is unquestionably large,” Deirdre Roberts, board chair of the Victoria Foundation, said in a statement.

“Students gain analytical skills and an appreciation of community leadership that supports their future academic and professional endeavours. The program also fosters philanthropic literacy that we hope will encourage participants to support their community throughout their lives.”

Students take part in the program through a leadership class or youth advisory committee. The program is supported by fundholders at the Victoria Foundation.

“This is a one-of-a-kind program as it directly gets students involved in their community and gets them making a difference,” Bree Neale, a senior student at Oak Bay High, said. The school donated its entire $2,500 to PEERS Victoria Resource Society.

The program also donates $500 each year to participating schools’ endowment funds to generate funds for future grants.

This year’s grants went to a variety of charities, including groups dedicated to eco-system restoration work, housing programs for at-risk populations, and a program that involves youth volunteers fixing bikes to donate to vulnerable youth.

The participating schools are Belmont Secondary, Frances Kelsey Secondary, Oak Bay High, Reynolds High, St. Michaels University, Stelly’s, and Victoria High School.

For more information, see www.victoriafoundation.bc.ca.