Students See Tangible Impact of Nonprofits through YEP STL!

“I read every word of the grant applications we receive, because I respect the work and thought that goes into them. We ask a lot of questions,” says Tyler Ray. The senior at Marquette High School has fed his curiosity and interest in community engagement during his four years on the YEP STL! board, a youth-led grantmaking group organized by YouthBridge and funded by First Bank. Mentors from both organizations “take you under the hood of grantmaking,” he says, “and allow you to see the tangible impact of nonprofits – a stark contrast to a lot of other service groups that are merely an activity to list on your resume.”

Whitfield senior Agha Haider agrees that the YEP STL!, which stands for Youth Engaged in Philanthropy, has been an invaluable learning experience, especially for a young social entrepreneur. As an eighth grader, Haider founded the Literacy Initiative, which provides books and after-school programming for disadvantaged youth through volunteer high school students.

“I’ve gained a lot of skills and insight through YEP STL! and, in general, learned so much about other people,” says Haider, who joined the group his freshman year and will end this year when he graduates from high school. He admits the first year was a bit intimidating, but he soon found camaraderie in like-minded students that have become friends. His favorite part of the process, he says, is interviewing the nonprofit finalists. “The biggest thing I’m looking for is whether I can see the passion in the people behind the organization.”

Total 2020 YEP Grants: $10,000
Asthma and Allergy Foundation, Center for Hearing & Speech, Duo Dogs, Faith Walk, Room at the Inn, Operation Food Search, United Services for Children