I first starting working in the philanthropic sector when I was a wide-eyed high school freshman. I was persuaded to join a volunteer youth grantmaking board and immediately fell in love with the culture and goals of the nonprofit and foundation world. My very first summer internship was with the Battle Creek Community Foundation where I was introduced to the youth philanthropy movement, as well as the state of Michigan’s legacy in creating and supporting this movement.
From that summer on, I was hooked. I’ve since sat on multiple volunteer boards and my internship this summer with the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) marks my fourth internship in this field. It’s safe to say that this was a sector I was deeply and passionately interested in. Yet, it wasn’t until my time this summer with CMF that I realized this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Michigan has a rich history of philanthropic giving. From the Kresge Foundation to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, some of the largest and most charitable foundations in the country are headquartered in this state. Thus, CMF is one of the oldest, most established, and engaged regional associations of grantmakers out there. These have been the perfect conditions for standardized community foundation based youth giving programs to flourish all across the state. But that doesn’t mean that the Michigan model can’t be replicated.
My work this summer has shown me that engaging regional grantmaking associations in a way similar to the Michigan model, is an untapped resource for many family and community foundations that wish to engage young people in their grantmaking processes. I’ve discovered that this is a professional goal I aim to achieve and have finally been able to put my career ambitions into words which will result in tangible actions.
If I wasn’t sure that this was the career field for me after six years of working in it, I absolutely am now. My internship has not only given me a deeper understanding of the work I’ve done so far, but it has also given me some of the knowledge and tools that I need to spread the important work being done in Michigan to other parts of the country. I’m not quite ready to take on this challenging career goal yet, but after this summer I know I’m on my way.