The "Ingenious" Youth Experience

Monday, October 16 marked the Youth Grant Team’s eighth meeting, during which we prepared a final list of organizations to receive funding from us. This year, the IPC Foundation has presented us with $15,000 to allocate among organizations applying for grants from the Beeson Fund as we see fit. This fund dates back to the 1980s, when it was established by the Beeson family with a certain mission: “the benefit of mankind, the education of youth, the relief of human suffering, and propagation of the Christian religion.” Therein lies the issue: all 96 grants that we review meet this criteria. There are exactly 142,880 possible combinations of three organizations, should we choose three, and a literally infinite number of ways to distribute $15,000 among these. The numbers go to show that such decisions are not easy, nor are they made without care.

Grant applicants realize this, which is reflected in the tremendous effort that they put into their requests. At our first meeting, each of us signed a code of conduct, pledging to match their effort during our review. However, before the first meeting I could not have defined the word “grant.” Because of my inexperience, I expected to play a passive role, leaving the decision-making to qualified adults. I was in for a major wake-up call when IPC Foundation executive director Denise Moore, director of Stewardship & Development Rev. Lucy Turner, Youth Ministries director Catherine Goudreau, and Youth Ministries assistant director Gann Wright trained us to read grant requests then handed us a stack of 96 requests.

That the Foundation would allow unversed adolescents such as me to review applications was instantly puzzling and ingenious. Because all of us on the team have that inexperience chip on our shoulder, we scrutinize each line of requests and listen intently during site visit in an effort to treat each organization fairly. Already, many of us have developed passionate cases for certain organizations. Of the positions of responsibility that I have held throughout my high school career, I can say absolutely that this is the first in which I have been held entirely accountable.

An example of this was our most recent meeting, for which we were asked to research certain organizations and come ready to present. The adult leadership did not prepare any back-up plan in case one of us forgot to note key information. Instead, we were expected to use our resources and apply the skills that they taught us to work it out amongst ourselves. When we present our final plan before the Foundation on November 6, we will be able to draw on such experiences.

Being a member of this team has been gratifying in two senses: the work that we are doing is undoubtedly relevant, and the lessons that I am learning in responsible stewardship, effective collaboration, and even the social needs of today are those that I will continue to apply throughout my life. The grant team is another example of the incredible level of respect with which IPC treats its youth. However, this invaluable opportunity often goes unnoticed. Let this be a message of encouragement for all rising juniors and seniors next year: trust me, you do not want to miss out!

Hear more from all 14 members of the IPC Youth Grant Team on Monday, November 6 at 6 pm in Room 306.