Which Houston Funder is Getting into Youth Philanthropy in a Big Way?

In 2014, the Greater Houston Community Foundation gave almost equally to education groups and public benefit organizations. But one niche that's also on its mind lately is youth. 

Related: IP’s Profile of the Greater Houston Community Foundation

The GHCF recently partnered up with Youth Philanthropy Connect and hosted the first-ever Regional Youth Philanthropy Connect Conference. The day-long, multi-generational conference took place on May 2 and was called “Youth Philanthropy on the Road.” It wasn't only targeted at the Houston metro area, but the entire Southwest. Youth Philanthropy Connect is actually based in Studio City, California and is a special program at the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation.

Related: Read IP’s Profile of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation

“This conference gave our donors the platform to share their generosity and commitment to philanthropy with their children and future generations,” explained Steve Maislin, GHCF’s president.

According to a press release, the conference involved hands-on grantmaking processes to train youth to give grant money away. In fact, these kids were calling the shots to the tune of $5,000. In an attempt to inspire young, potential philanthropists at an early age, they read grant applications, debated over finalists, and met with nonprofits.

“As I learned about all of the organizations and about the impact they have on people, I felt inspired to make even more of a difference moving forward,” one youth donor said.

So how else has GHCF been thinking about youth lately?

Well for starters, the Greater Houston Fund to End Homelessness (GHFEH) has a strong youth angle. The funder recently announced the results of Youth Count 2.0, which surveyed homeless youth in Harris County and the greater Houston area. This was a collaborative effort with the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and the UTHealth School of Nursing and surveyed 436 local homeless youth in late 2014 to determine the greatest local needs.

GHCF doesn’t have a “youth specific” grantmaking program, but it seems that youth causes are tied to pretty much all of its official program areas: public benefit, education, health, human services, religion, arts, environmental, and international.

Although GHCF has over half a billion in assets, discretionary grantmaking isn’t really its thing, as most funds are tied up in individual, family foundation and corporate foundation funds. Houston nonprofits only have the opportunity to apply to a few of these funds (Port Arthur Communities Fund, Cullen Trust for Healthcare, and the John M. O’Quinn Foundation), and GHCF doesn’t make a habit of directly accepting grant applications or sending out requests for proposals.

So even though foundation giving seems to be trending toward youth philanthropy, the only way to really tap into this resource is to set up your nonprofit up for a profile on DonorXpress 2.0. This is where GHCF plays “middle man” and connects donors with youth nonprofits.

Just be forewarned that there are already over 400 organizations that have posted profiles for donors to peruse. Regardless, what’s the harm in throwing your name in the hat too? Email Eileen Alexander atealexander@ghcf.org to get the ball rolling.