Caring Begins Early for YEP Participants
Originally printed in our 2019 Annual Report.
Paul Spearing admits that he was knocked off his seat the first time he met with the YouthBridge YEP (Youth Engaged in Philanthropy) committee. “I was blown away by how connected they are with the world. They have a much broader perspective than I did in high school,” says Spearing, Commercial Banking Relationship Manager at First Bank, presenting sponsor of the YEP program. Spearing has served as a mentor to the group, which averages 15-20 area high schoolers and meets once a month at YouthBridge during the school year to select youth-focused nonprofits for monetary grants.
While he is there to steer and moderate discussions, Spearing explains that the students lead the process of researching organizations, requesting and reviewing applications, conducting interviews and ultimately choosing the winners. “They definitely have personal convictions but collaborate well and aren’t indecisive when it comes to narrowing down the applicants,” he says, adding that mental health, early childhood and helping youth less fortunate are common areas of interest for the group. In 2019, the YEP presented grant awards totaling $10,000 to nine organizations.
Pictured: Laura Horwitz, co-founder of We Stories, a 2019 YEP grant recipient, shares stories that encourage stronger race relations.