Thoughtful Notes from Harmony High

Over the past two months, a group of 23 students from Harmony High in Florida have been on their philanthropic journey, led by Scott Farnsworth, one of our founders and a wonderful advisor to families in the Orlando area.  Throughout their adventure, the students share their experience through their blog writing.  Here are a few of their comments throughout the program….

“From the non-profit panel I learned that it is very important to talk with a representative or board member of an organization before donating because you get a true understanding of the organization and of the people running it. Sitting down and taking to someone in person helps to get a feel for the passion behind the organization and the reason it exists rather than a hollow description on a computer screen. I am learning that it takes a lot of effort to fundraise money and now I am starting to appreciate and recognize the hard work that goes in to it.” 


“The MAD cards were fun to use. It was hard to decide what we’re only 5 main things I cared the most about. I learned that I cared most about children. I learned that a lot of people in our class cared so deeply about many different causes.”


“I was so excited to deliver the check to our organization.Having all the organizations come in to receive the donations and seeing their reactions was amazing.  It felt so good donating and raising money with my group.I really enjoyed participating in Main Street Philanthropy again it was a fun and great experience. I wish I could be back next year to participate again but this will help me continue to give back and it encourages me to do so.  This whole experience was life changing no matter how many times you go through it you always learn something new.  I really enjoyed working with the Medical Marvels and donating to the Ronald McDonald house of charities.”


I learned the multiple ways to evaluate an investment of a company. With today’s modern society there is plenty of ways to check the background of a company like checking their website, call, or email. For my group it was easy for us to go talk to them personally before looking up on a website since they are located at the school! I find that it is relatively easy to evaluate a non profit organization because all company’s must post their numbers and information.


“I interviewed my mother because I felt like it was important for me to learn about her past and what shaped her in to the person that she is today. One thing she said that surprised me was a problem in the world that she would fix, which was starvation in children. It surprised me because I didn’t know that was something she was passionate about. I learned that my mother has a very broad set of things she’s passionate about and things she would change in the world today.”


There are so many more wonderful thoughts and quotes that could be shared from this class!  Once again, I’m amazed by the growth and thoughtful nature of this next generation of philanthropists.  Please join us in congratulating them and encouraging them to continue on their journey of generosity!



Students from Main St. Philanthropy Speak at Millburn Board of Ed Meeting on February 23, 2015

MSP gets press for impacting lives in New Jersey!

If you haven’t seen it yet; check out this awesome MSP article out of Mendham in New Jersey!  Great job Yale Levey, our Master Ambassador inspiring and impacting lives!




Changing Lives in South Florida

We recently received a very heartfelt letter from the mother of a Main Street Philanthropy student in South Florida.  In it, she eloquently described how her teenager had been changed from the inside out as a result of the thoughtful giving he experienced in the Main Street Philanthropy program. She wrote,

 The conversation my son and I had the day his Main Street Philanthropy group visited the charities they selected to help was one of the best, and at the same time, most heart wrenching conversations I have ever had with him. He was moved to tears telling me all about the people served by those charities.

 Although he was very happy that his philanthropy group was able to help these people in a small way, he was also distraught that there were children who, through no fault of their own, found themselves and their families living in the Pat Reeves Center for homeless families.

 My son told me that his experiences that day made him realize how much he took for granted that he had a roof over his head, his own bedroom to sleep in each night, and a kitchen always stocked with food. He felt very guilty for what he had, in comparison to the people he saw that day.

 He was deeply moved by the experience and vowed to make a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than him.   He said the Main Street Philanthropy class was the best experience he has had in his 3 years of high school.


As we’ve seen with each group of students in the MSP program, purposeful philanthropy has the power to transform lives from the inside out.  Thank you for supporting Main Street Philanthropy as we educate and inspire the next generation of philanthropists!  

Master Ambassador and Co-Founder Scott Farnsworth preparing future philanthropists!


Another batch of inspired philanthropists released!

In a moving celebration and ceremony last week, over 50 new graduates of The Main Street Philanthropy Academy from Clairemont High School’s Academy of Business in San Diego were awarded their certificates, recognizing them for completing the 10-week course in giving with purpose and passion!

The day consisted of several speeches from students, over $4,000 given to charities, incredible words of encouragement, and an abundance of new found hope and confidence in our youth, our future leaders.

John Loomer of the Homeless Veterans Services shared, “it touches my heart to see the outpouring of care and passion in this room…. You kids are a step ahead of so many people in the world, since you now know the value of caring and sharing.”

Several of the students shared their personal stories of why they selected specific causes, how events had impacted their lives, and what it meant to them to be able to support an organization that meant so much to them.

In more than one occasion, tears streamed down faces as we all experienced a moment of what it means to give.   We got a glimpse of the joy one experiences from making an impact in someone else’s life.  We felt the understanding that giving truly does affect the hearts and minds of those who give, perhaps more so than those who receive.

We’re so proud of our new graduates and look forward to watching them continue to make a difference in their communities and in the world!

MSP has really changed me. A few weeks ago, I never thought of contributing to a charity. Now I’m a certified PHILANTHROPIST!!!! I’m a junior in high school and already have a semi-professional title. The feeling of knowing I have accomplished something this big, is just mind blowing to me. I already know more about taxes than most adults. So basically this program is giving me the opportunity to tackle life and quick.   – Khalid


It started with MAD Cards (Make a Difference)!

IMG_4920 (800x533)IMG_4928 (533x800)







I couldn’t even say the word philanthropy or know how to spell it until Ryan came in and told us about it. He gave us Make A Difference cards to see different causes that needed help. He told us to choose our top three cards and I chose Family Services, Animal Care and Environmental Disaster. Choosing the MAD cards was a new experience and taught me that there are a lot of problems in the world. I hope to gain the experience of being the one person to make a difference in others’ lives.- Ronson


Continued over weeks and weeks of having to listen to an MSP Ambassador, Ryan Ponsford….

IMG_4933 (800x533)

What I learned while creating our Purpose, Vision, and Mission Statements was that each one was a link to one another. For instance, when they told us to make a purpose statement it shows why you would dedicate your time to a cause and how it is important to you. Now that you see how you have a purpose for what you want to dedicate your time for, the vision statement is telling people what you wish to see in the future while helping the cause you want. From there, the mission statement is telling people what you will do to help your cause and get you closer to your goal. –     Jacqueline



The 6th week was inspirational. We got to see a video clip about an elder lady who had lots of money saved, which she donated it all to things she felt close to. This taught me that you can still give to people no matter if it’s money or assistance. Whether you are poor or rich you can still change lives. – Alex W


20140224_122331 (800x450)



Awesome leaders from non-profit organizations came in to

speak with us and answer tough questions…




We had to make calls to strangers to see if they were interested in what we were doing. What I found from calling organizations is that some of them seemed ecstatic to meet you and talk to you while others seemed to be having a bad day. –Diana


Students presented their findings, who they selected, and what they learned….

20140313_123026 (800x450)

Taxes: To me this section of MSP has been the most eye opening.  Not only did I love crunching the numbers to change quantitative data to qualitative I also found that at the rate my organization was spending their money they weren’t very responsible and careful.  For me in the future when I do more philanthropy I’m definitely going to ask for the 990 tax document because you can really get a lot of info out of it and without doing it you could just be throwing cash at someone who isn’t really helping anyone but themselves. –Gavin K


20140313_133135 (800x450)20140313_130140 (800x450)20140313_135327 (800x450)


My Experience in discovering my purpose, vision, and mission has been eye opening to say the least. Starting this M.S.P project has made me realize that philanthropy is not just signing a check for some random charity (well, for some “Philanthropists” it is) but there is a lot of research and care that goes into choosing the right organization making sure your dollar goes a long way. – Arthur


We piled into a bus, and drove around San Diego, visiting organizations, handing out checks!

IMG_5235 (800x533)IMG_5253 (800x489)









Finally, in front of local organizations, teachers, and community members, students gave speeches about their experience, organizations received investments in their causes, tears were shed, and everyone in attendance received a healthy dose of hope.


“What this did for me, more than anything, was give me hope.  With my own kids in high school, I see the challenges they face, the daily opportunities to make poor decisions, and all of the negative influences in the world.  This program can and will change that in the lives of these students.  I’m encouraged that there’s hope for our future.”  – Gary S., Community member, business owner



IMG_5446 (800x533) IMG_5440 (800x533)









With all that’s wrong with our world, there is a generation in the making that is compelled to do wonderful things in their communities.  Students are eager to tune out the negative, change their perspective from inward to outward, and make a lasting positive difference in the world.

Please join us in congratulating this next cohort of

philanthropists and future community leaders!



IMG_5457 (800x409)


Philanthropy 101: It’s not about the money!

Just what is philanthropy?


What comes to mind when you hear the word “philanthropy?”  Money?  Names on buildings?  Tax and legal strategies for the wealthy?  For most of us, philanthropy is an ivy-league term that connotes something reserved for the Park Avenue crowd, not the majority of us living a few blocks off Main Street.  However, the reality is that philanthropy has nothing to do with money or wealth.  Nothing to do with writing large checks.  And what’s more?  Each of us and our families can benefit from a little taste of philanthropic activity.  For now, let’s just look at some of the origin of the concept…


Starting with just the word “philanthropy,” it comes from the Greek words, “philein” and “anthropos.”  For the Greek scholars out there, you’ll know that these two words basically translate to “love for humankind.”  The widely accepted theory for the origin of the word, is that it comes from the ancient Greek playwright, Aeschylus, in depicting the Titan Prometheus’ “philanthropos tropos,” or “humanity-loving character.”  If you recall, Greek mythology tells of Zeus’ decision to destroy humans as they had no knowledge, skills, or culture of any sort.  Prometheus, apparently being a humanity-loving gent, decided to give them two empowering gifts – fire and optimism (or blind hope).  With fire, humans could be optimistic, and with optimism, they would use the fire for the benefit of their race.  From there was born philanthropia, or loving what it is to be human.  (Oddly, the main thing I remember from my studies of Greek mythology, was that Prometheus was punished by being chained to a rock where vultures would come every day and eat out his liver.  Because he was a Titan, it would grow back that night, and he’d endure the same the next day.  Nice…)


As you’ll notice, there wasn’t a mention of “giving money away,” “tax strategies for the rich,” a suggestion of “your name on a building;” or anything of the sort.  Philanthropy in its root form is doing well for others because you genuinely care.  It’s making an effort for the well-being of the human race.  This could be about supporting a charitable organization that is doing good things, it could be about giving a Cliff Bar to someone on the street, or it could be merely holding open the door for someone on the way into a building.  So, the bottom line here is that we can all be philanthropists. 


However, there is more to the message.  There’s more because you ought to understand both why and how you should become philanthropic. 


I’ll jump out on a limb here and make the assumption that most of us have given something to someone in our lives.  I’ll also make the bold suggestion that you may have even enjoyed it.  Well, as you might guess, there have been studies done linking giving and generosity to good health – mental, emotional, and spiritual.  In a future article, I’ll share those with you; the outcomes are telling. 

So, giving is good for you; most of us know that already.  Here’s the real question that I get from individuals, couples, and families.  How do I best give?  More than ever, folks are becoming more concerned with maximizing the actual impact of their gifts.  Our dollars are finite.  If we want to truly participate in addressing a societal problem, where are our dollars best allocated?  Which organizations will be the best stewards of our funds?  How do we maximize the impact of giving for our family? 

In my mind there are two answers to these questions.  One addresses increasing the odds that you are choosing to fund organizations that have the highest likelihood of solving the core problem you wish to solve.  To some extent, this is an investment equation.  How will you get the maximum return on investment, when return is quantified by success in solving a social problem?  The other is, how might you and your family, company, or group go through the process of selecting an organization so as to maximize the benefits to your family?  This second question is the one that I find more valuable and most often missed. Just another lesson we tackle at Main Street Philanthropy; stay tuned to learn more!  In the meantime, do something nice for someone; see if it improves your day!   

Two is More than One!

Main Street Philanthropy is back in Clairemont High School’s Academy of Business! 


 After making waves in San Diego in 2013, Main Street Philanthropy has been invited back to Clairemont High; this time to lead two classes of juniors through the joys of intelligent giving. 


Beginning in January, students will embark on a ten week journey, led by MSP Ambassador Ryan Ponsford, in which they are taught the principles of becoming philanthropists.  They will learn that true philanthropy is not just about money, but about the simple love of humankind.  They will sort through colorful Make a Difference (MAD) cards to determine their personal passions for how they’d like to affect change in the world.  Working in teams, these ambitious students will identify local nonprofit organizations that support their causes, then apply investment principles of qualitative and quantitative analysis to determine which are most likely to make an impact with their donor-provided philanthropic dollars.  Also raising a chunk of money on their own, they will then embark on an adventure to visit and hand deliver checks to worthy organizations. 


What’s to be expected on the other side of this bridge?  Here you’ll find 50 budding philanthropists, trained and armed with skills to lead future groups of givers.  You’ll be introduced to purposeful givers that can quantify the impact of their charitable investments.  You’ll meet a group of young men and women that have experienced and become infected with the joys of intelligent giving.  Armed with communication skills, financial principles, a sense of purpose, and a dose of inspiration; these are our future leaders. 


See you on the other side!!

Advisor Strives To Train Students In Helping Society – New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Observer-Tribune News

Check out the following article published in the New Jersey Hills Newspaper!


Advisor Strives To Train Students In Helping Society – New Jersey Hills Newspaper: Observer-Tribune News.


By PHIL GARBER, Managing Editor | 0 comments



MENDHAM – Yale Levey is passionate about helping young people to learn the importance of combining investing and social causes.

The borough resident and financial advisor and his colleagues have created a non-profit group, Main Street Philanthropy and a curriculum that teaches students the value of philanthropic investing.

Levey has brought his program to Franklin High School and hopes to expand to other schools around the area, the state and the nation.

“This is meant to create a culture of giving,” Levey said. “I’m teaching kids how to dare and why to care. The antidote to much of what is broken in the world is giving; it’s that simple.”

The curriculum is being supported by a $10,000 grant from Christopher Johnson of Mendham and his company, Hollister Construction Services.  As part of their obligation to the program,  participating students also will raise $1,000 to provide to charitable  organization they have vetted.

Classes run for one hour, once a week. By the end of the 10-week program, students will give out most of the money to charitable groups they have chosen.

“We’re breeding philanthropists in training,” said Levey.

The goal of the program is to create a real-world experience in charitable giving and fundraising. Through the program, students will meet in small groups along with their teacher, Ron Richter and with Levey, who calls himself a Main Street Philanthropy Ambassador.

The group also will meet with donors and charities which would benefit from the collaboration.

Vetting Charities

Using the donated funds and money they raise themselves, students will identify local charities whose missions align with the students’ charitable passions. Working in small groups, they will examine the organizations’ tax returns and evaluate their effectiveness in accomplishing their charitable purposes.

They will interview officers and board members and then decide which organizations are having the greatest impact.  Eventually, they will deliver checks to those charities that the students decide are doing the best job in the community.

The program was launched on Nov. `13 as part of Richter’s business psychology class.

Raised in Short Hills, Levey said he spent many years as a wealth management advisor. Sometime in 2004, he said he was speaking about charitable planning with his brother, Greg.

It was an “epiphany” when Levey thought about how basic financial planning could be combined with charitable planning.

“I discovered that a very, very small group of planners had the same idea,” Levey said.

He soon became involved with the International Association of  Advisors in Philanthropy and in 2006 was asked to join the board. He was later named its marketing director.

By 2009, Levey and a small group of colleagues formed the Metro-NY Philanthropy Advisory Network  to provide a forum for major philanthropists. He also formed a new company, Next Generation Wealth Planning which supports what he called, “multi-dimensional wealth planning.”

“True wealth is your money but it’s also in relationships, heritage, intellect  and the causes I stand for,” Levey said.

Levey said he works with several other partners to provide advice to affluent families.

The outgrowth of all his efforts was the Main Street Philanthropy program. Its goal is to provide students with critical life skills “with giving and philanthropy at its core.”

The program begins with an assessment of the students’ awareness and an explanation of the many charitable causes.

“We help the kids learn what they are passionate about outside of themselves,” Levey said. “They consider everything from religion to hunger to health, animal care, civil rights and arts and culture.”

Students with like passions then  pair up and write regular blogs about the program.  They then get together in larger groups and talk about their lives and families.

“We discover we are a lot more alike than different,´” Levey said.

Levey is not being paid for running the high school program but is launching a home version of the curriculum for families and to license the curriculum and train others as leaders.

Levey and his wife, Donna, have a son, Gabe, 11, and daughter, Olivia, 10.

Updates from Franklin High in New Jersey!

If you weren’t already aware, Main Street Philanthropy launched another class at Franklin High in New Jersey!  Under the leadership of Ambassador Yale Levey, they are off and running, learning their passions, and preparing to make a difference in the world!

Here are a few quotes from their blogs after just the first two weeks:


The first session I experienced at Main Street Philanthropy was unheard of. The things going through my head during the activities were deep and at a state which I haven’t reached before. I am now starting to realize what is more important to me in my life. I am getting my priorities straight. Hopefully, as this program progresses I will be able to change my perspective even more on certain subjects. With this program, I think it is possible.
-Ahil R.

I’ve already learned something new about myself and it has only been one week.
– Cheyenne D

From the first week/session of Main Street Philanthropy I realized I care a lot more than I expected. All of the cards from the Make A Difference deck brought up a desire to help within me. In the end I picked the cards that helped those who couldn’t help themselves (children, animals and hunger). I was surprised to see that everyone cared about children as much as I did.
-Alexis C

The first session of Main Street Philanthropy was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. When I first heard about this program, it seemed too good to be true. Living in a world where adults don’t really trust teens to actually complete things, I was surprised that we as high school students would be allowed to directly interact with charities and maybe donate money to them. However, when we had the first session in class, this turned into a reality. We were able to discover our passions and learned a few things about ourselves along the way. I’m really excited to see what will happen on this journey.
-Stephanie T
Our first session in Main Street Philanthropy was quite interesting to me. One thing was when we did the activity called M.A.D (Make A Difference), I learnt many things about myself and a general idea of others during the activity, when we had to only pick three of the several cards that was there, it made me feel a little guilty when I couldn’t pick more than the three. I know I am one out of seven billion people in the world that could make a difference, but it still made me feel a little guilty when I had to drop the rest of the ones I couldn’t help with.
Ken P

We did an activity called M.A.D., where we had cards with different topics on them, such as hunger, family services, environmental services, etc. From the various cards and topics, we had to pick six that we cared the most about. I thought that was difficult; when we had to narrow it down to only three cards, I had to spend a little time picking which ones to keep and which ones to eliminate. Right then, I realized how much I really cared about different organizations and services and what they meant to me personally. It was difficult getting rid of certain cards because I picked each card because they all somehow made an impact on my life.
– Chelsea J

This first week of Main Street Philanthropy was a very interesting session. It was a session that opened my eyes to how I am and how others are. During this session we had to do this activity called M.A.D (Make A difference) it consisted of cards to show what the person cares most about. Just seeing the cards changed the way I thought. When I opened the deck I saw all the things we can do to help in a charitable way, then after we looked at all the cards we had to choose six that we cared most about. That made me really think about the things closest to my heart, and then when I narrowed it down to six I had to choose my top three. Choosing my top three was a struggle because my top two were simple but I was then stuck between three topics. I had to really think of my life and see which topic I was more passionate about. After what felt like an eternity I got my top three and shared them. then I listened to the rest of the class share theirs and it gave me a new perspective on life, myself, and others. I learned that people have their own interests and also that people actually do care about problems in the world.

This program seems really beneficial and I look forward to every second I spend in it. I hope that this experience teaches me how to take charge and stand up for what I want. I am also very exited to donate the money to the charity and being able to help those in need. I see so much good in this program. And I really want to be changed and moved by it.   -Justin M
Throughout high school, I have volunteered for many different causes and for several organizations. Each volunteer experience is different and allows you to learn something you haven’t before- about the world or about even yourself. Volunteering gives you a satisfaction like no other and I am truly honored to be a part of Main Street Philanthropy and am looking forward to the next sessions, where we begin to explore our passions.   – Neha H


You can read more and keep updated on their progress by clicking HERE.


Obviously we’re excited to have Yale leading this class and impacting the lives of more students, our future leaders!  Stay tuned for more updates and great things we’ll be sharing in the next few weeks!







Main Street Philanthropy Gets a New Look!

Check us out; we have a new look, logo, website and are expanding quickly!  If you haven’t gone to our website lately, it’s about that time!  While there remains a few changes coming, we’re thrilled to share the new look and feel! 

Our snazzy new logo:


Beyond just our new look, stay tuned to learn about our new Main Street Ambassadors that will be bringing Main Street Philanthropy to their communities in over 10 states!