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The Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program, founded and funded by The George Foundation and in partnership with Fort Bend Forward, recently completed its 19th year of juniors and seniors from high schools across Fort Bend positively impacting our community through volunteerism.

The Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program celebrated its twenty-first year in April of 2018. The seven month program, funded by The George Foundation and in partnership with the Fort Bend Chamber, brings together high school juniors and seniors from across Fort Bend County to serve their community, but the experience does much more than just provide students with an opportunity to earn service hours. YIP is shaping our young men and women to be the future leaders of Fort Bend County.

Contributing over three thousand hours of service within our community, the 2017-2018 YIP students work in diverse teams to support the missions of twenty-four Fort Bend County nonprofits. Participants had the opportunity to get hands on experience with organizations such as Child Advocates of Fort Bend, GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land, Fort Bend Women’s Center and Foster Museum to better understand the impact these nonprofits have on our community and their neighbors. In addition to their nonprofit experiences, the students also gained valuable leadership opportunities, while enhancing their teamwork and communication skills that will help prepare them for their future.

The 2017-2018 YIP students represented twenty-two different high schools from across Fort Bend County. The students were divided into seven teams with broad representation across ethnicities, gender, socio-economic backgrounds and local geography. But what these students soon realized is they have many commonalities including the desire to be a part of a program that encourages each individual person to help someone new, to learn something new and to connect with someone new. The diversity in thought, experiences and background is what makes the program so empowering as the students learn to communicate with one another, respect each other’s ideas and opinions and work together to solve a problem or finish the task at hand over the seven-month journey.

The YIP Program concludes with a celebration of student participants and our partnering nonprofits at the annual “Investment in Youth Luncheon” held at Safari Texas. With additional generous support from other local foundations, individual donors, and the business community, the YIP program was proud to award scholarships to 156 YIP students totaling over $170,000. Additionally, the YIP students had the opportunity collaborate and evaluate their nonprofit experience and the organizations’ impact in the community and award grants up to $2,000 to support their mission.

When asked about her most meaningful experience, one student wrote, “It is the simple things in life such as volunteering or sharing your time with incredible people that make life so meaningful and great. If there is one thing that I have learned from this experience it is that our problems are so small in the grand scheme of things and everyone is essentially going through something. What makes life so beautiful is the fact that we can overcome obstacles and we are not alone in our struggles and triumphs. I have had some of the best times of my life through YIP.”