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  • May 2012
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Teens 4 Change: Making a Difference in Pittsburgh

Last Tuesday, I was happy to attend a celebration held right in my library for a group of teens who have been working on quite the extracurricular activity for the past 7 months.  The 10 teens make up the committee of Teens 4 ChangeTeens 4 Change is a program put on by the Three Rivers Community Foundation. It gives the participants $7,000 to award to youth-led projects or projects aimed specifically for youth, through a grant process. Their motto is “Change, not Charity”. According to the TRCF, this program means to “increase youth participation in philanthropy… support youth involvement in community change, and promote youth service and giving.” (from their Spring 2012 newsletter).

At the presentation, the teens (Tahmina, Teje, Lynae, Mary, Sam, Lexy, Jordan, Oliver, Maddigan, and Molly) took turns explaining the selection criteria for their grants and their decision-making process. The projects they were looking for had to be

– youth-led, promoting youth activism

-somehow addressing divisions in society based on race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, religion, disability, or ancestry

– from grassroots organizations with budgets under $200,000 and acted as nonprofits

-focused on cutting-edge issues

-coming from workplaces that were ADA accessible

You can see that T4C had a lot to consider when they were making their decisions!

Starting in the fall, Teens 4 Change met every other week at CLP-East Liberty to learn about grantmaking, philanthropy, and social justice. Their requests for proposals had a deadline in March, and in May they had decided to award their money to 5 local organizations:

Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh

for CampOUT, an alternative summer camp for children of alternative families ages 6-14

Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, Pittsburgh Chapter

for the Peer Advocates for Safe Schools (PASS) program, a 10 hour youth leadership and empowerment training program for high schoolers.


for the Clothesline Project, to bring awareness of domestic violence at high schools (originating at Shaler High School)

Prime Stage Theatre

for funds to tour their play “Everything is Fine” to schools and community organizations with limited budgets. The play was written, designed, produced, and presented by PST’s Teen Board.

Tree Pittsburgh

for a project in Homewood that taught community teenagers to become Tree Tenders

Do you think that Teens 4 Change sounds like a cool program?  It will be happening again next year. Or consider becoming part of the Three Rivers Community Foundation’s Youth Ambassador program, which runs over the summer.  The deadline to apply is June 1st. More information is found under the link.

Want to learn more about grants, advocacy and philanthropy?  The library has a special section at the Oakland location called the Foundation Center. It’s set up to help grant-seekers find funders to match their needs, and to learn about writing grants.  Want to become a Teen Advocate for the library?  You can do that, too! Ask the teen services person at your location how.

Or check out these books about youth activism:

Citizen you : doing your part to change the world / Jonathan M. Tisch with Karl Weber ; foreword by Cory A. Booker.

How to be an everyday philanthropist: 330 ways to make a difference in your home, community, and world–at no cost / by Nicole Bouchard Boles

Yes you can!: your guide to becoming an activist / by Jane Drake & Ann Love


Do Something!: A Handbook for young activists / by Nancy Lublin


– Tessa, CLP-East Liberty

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