THE GIVING SQUARE
Our Founding (2016-2017)
In fall 2016, we were a group of citizens concerned about the rise of the divisive “us vs. them” narrative in our country. We were a group of parents seeking to raise caring children amidst increased rates of bullying and narcissism in our schools. We were professionals in philanthropy, community development, and social change, eager for a new way to involve children as community builders. Under these forces, a new idea was born: to empower and challenge children to be empathetic, impactful, and authentic philanthropists (givers of themselves for the good of humanity).
A few months later we piloted a Kids for Kids Fund with 40 students at Wood Acres Elementary School. Quickly, we saw the impact the program had on kids. Based on their feedback, children loved it and learned a lot. At home, their parents observed increased empathy and a desire to give back.
Our Early Growth (2018-2019)
Over the next two years we grew to 4 and then 11 schools, always ensuring that over 30% of our programs were being offered in low-income communities. After gathering more data we saw that the word “philanthropist” became a powerful identity for all children, empowering them with a sense of responsibility to do good for others.
In order to grow we codified our curriculum and established a train-the-trainer model. With more schools offering the program, we were able to launch Kids for Kids Celebrations which brought schools together in order for kids to present their ideas and work publicly, in front of other kids, their parents, and community leaders. We continued exploring different ways to engage families in the methodology through family workshops and field trips (all co-led with Kids for Kids Fund alumni).
Our COVID-19 Journey (2020)
In the beginning of 2020, we launched over 20 Kids for Kids Fund programs in schools. After the abrupt halt to in-person programming due to COVID-19, we:
Converted our Kids for Kids Fund programs to virtual experiences.
Started publishing The Giving Square, a weekly newsletter full of tools, ideas, and frameworks for engaging children in civic action.
Launched Kids for Kids LIVE!, a virtual, intergenerational conversation focused on ways to be philanthropic and centered around activists, authors, artists, first responders, researchers, and other philanthropists. In 2020 alone we conducted 21 sessions.
Brought the virtual Kids For Kids Fund to summer camp with TIC’s Camp Optimistic, the YMCA Youth and Family Services, and The McDonogh School.
Piloted our virtual Kids & Grands in Action camp, offered both directly from The Giving Square and in partnership with Capital Camps.
Moving Forward (2021-)
In 2020, children across the country experienced: (1) a global pandemic, (2) a powerful resistance against systemic racism, and (3) a divisive election. These impactful events made our work even more critical and relevant. 2020 has made it very clear that transactional acts of giving (used clothes donations, lemonade stands, and canned food collections) are not enough. We need to fundamentally shift how children relate to others and how they contribute to the collective good.
As we start to imagine a post-Covid 19 world, we are committed to:
Proving the case that children can be community builders, philanthropists, and civic actors.
Expanding our programming to new states and communities. All growth will strive to represent socio-economic, political, and geographic diversity in the schools and communities we serve.
Embedding discussions and actions related to systemic racism into our curriculum, conversations, practices, and policies. Our work will contribute to kids having a greater sense of responsibility for making life more fair for others.
Seeking opportunities to collaborate with other nonprofits, associations, networks, and allies.
Engaging intergenerational participants, recognizing the value that bringing diverse ages and perspectives has on our work.
*not all completed due to COVID-19