Maxwell talks with Congressman Joe Kennedy III about youth activism at "Philanthropy on the Field" in Boston, Massachusetts (photo credit: Joy Olaes Surprenant)
Saint Sebastian's School

Learning by Giving: Teaching youth about philanthropy

Over 250 of Boston’s young professionals attended “Philanthropy on the Field,” a workshop and fundraiser sponsored by the Learning to Give Foundation (LxG) and The Red Sox Foundation on Dec. 1 in Fenway Park. 

“This is an opportunity to increase collaboration between funders and donors and nonprofits, to really raise the level of understanding and awareness of what nonprofits need to do their work better, and for donors to be humble partners in that,” LxG’s Executive Director Amy Kingman said.

Founded by Doris Buffett in 2003, LxG aims to educate the next generation of philanthropists and distribute funds to local communities in need. At the event, attendees worked in teams directing $100,000 of grant funds to high-impact, local nonprofits. The participating organizations focused on youth education and development, immigrant/women’s rights, or direct services.

“It is important for youth to understand that making decisions about how to use money to affect change requires a lot of thought,” said Professor Rebecca Riccio, LxG faculty member and Director of the Social Impact Lab at Northeastern University. “We need to be smart about how we use the limited resources available to us in the most effective ways possible. So, caring about issues is important, but being savvy about what it costs to pay for the change we want to affect in the world is also important.”  

Kingman moderated a discussion with a panel of Massachusetts’ community leaders — Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Co-Founder of Neighborhood Villages Lauren Birchfield-Kennedy, the Executive Director of the Lewis Family Foundation Juma Crawford, and Founder and President of the BASE Robert Lewis Jr.

“Our country is about improving on the successes of our past so we can continue to address the inequities that we face,” said Kennedy. “We’ve still got a long way to go. Everything from making sure the U.S. Government isn’t complicit in taking families away from children to making sure every single child has a chance to succeed. Education and social economic justice is at the heart of it.”

The guest speakers emphasized the importance of youth engagement.

“The bottom line is that the earlier you start, the more meaningful it’s going to be,” Kingman said.

Congressman Kennedy advised young people to “push and keep pushing” for change.

“This world is going to be yours and the challenges that we don’t fix are going to be yours to inherit. So, take advantage of the opportunity now,” Kennedy said.

Crawford believes teens can make a difference.

“Never underestimate your power,” he said. “Do not disregard your age, do not disregard your experience. It’s about whether you take risks and whether you continue to grow and learn, and whether you’re going to continue to stretch your comfort zone to learn the things you may not know. There are bigger worlds outside of your world.”