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!

Getting Press in Orlando, Florida!

This past week our students from Harmony High School delivered checks to several of the organizations they selected after completing the Main Street Philanthropy course!  Along with them for the ride was David Breen, a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel.  Following is a nice piece that David wrote about the program.  Check it out!!

Thanks David!! 

Harmony students learn how charity can make a difference

Program’s students research charities, award grants

By David Breen, Orlando Sentinel

 Philanthropy class
Pat Filippone is in the business of raising money in her role as executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Osceola County. But on Thursday, business gave way to emotion as she thanked a group of high school students for choosing Habitat as the recipient of a $1,200 grant.

“This will be multiplied one-thousandfold,” Filippone told them tearfully.

The students are members of a new program at Harmony High School that’s teaching kids how to make a difference through charitable giving.
Over the past several weeks, 21 students at the school near St. Cloud have researched the work of various charities and heard presentations. Now, thanks to a private donor, they’re handing out checks totaling $6,000 to the causes they chose.

On Thursday, the class traveled throughout Osceola, giving donations to Habitat, the Pawsitive Action Foundation and Give Kids the World. Other groups, including United Arts of Central Florida and the Christian Service Center for Central Florida, will get checks next week.

The class is the brainchild of Harmony financial planner and attorney Scott Farnsworth, 60, who counsels wealthy families on money management and charitable giving. Money for the grants the class is distributing came from one of his clients, businessman Ed Verner of Plant City.

“This is the way that we can actually change the world,” Farnsworth said. “It’s pretty hard to do it one family at a time, but if you can get a roomful of kids …”

The first step for the students was to match their personal passions with a compatible cause.
Payton Poulin, 18, decided he’d support Give Kids the World, which hosts families of children with life-threatening illnesses while they’re visiting Central Florida attractions.

“I’ve seen what they’re doing for disabled people,” said Payton, who has cerebral palsy. The class, he said, “taught me a lot about who I am as a person and what I need to do to be a better citizen for my society.”
Seventeen-year-old Brianna Pesce said she chose to support the local chapter of Habitat because “it just seems like the money would help a smaller charity more than a larger one.

“It’s just inspiring that they help the people who don’t have what others have,” she added.

Travis Carter, 18, chose the Clean the World Foundation. Its mission is to recycle hotel supplies such as soap and shampoo, sanitize them and ship them to needy countries. He was amazed to learn that something as simple as hand-washing could sharply reduce the number of children who die of hygiene-related diseases every day.

“You need to donate where your heart is,” he said.

Once a week, Farnsworth visits Eric Hansen’s government class. Hansen’s students are all part of Harmony’s student government, and they’re no strangers to service. Each Friday, they do projects around school, from serving food in the cafeteria to weeding to cleaning windows, Hansen said.
But through the philanthropy class, Hansen has seen the kids grow — interacting with charities’ boards of trustees and gaining confidence and maturity that will serve them far beyond high school.

“They carry themselves differently,” said Hansen, 42. “They’re not just caught up in that texting-video game culture.”

In between typical teen talk about who sweats too much and which teacher is “being a butt-head,” these kids throw around phrases like “quantitative and qualitative analysis” and “990 tax form” — the IRS form for nonprofits that they’ve learned to decipher in class.

The program is unique in Central Florida, but Farnsworth and a partner in California are looking to spread the word through Main Street Philanthropy, a nonprofit they formed. Farnsworth hopes to have three classes in Osceola schools next year and is looking to recruit “ambassadors” — financial professionals like himself — and donors to take the classes nationwide.

One big lesson the students have learned so far is that philanthropy needn’t be limited to the wealthy.
“I realized that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a difference in your community,” said Olivia Porter, 17. “The little that you can give can go a long way for charities and mean a lot to them.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Main Street Philanthropy,
check out our website at:

MSP gets national attention!

Getting the Word Out!!

I’m thrilled to share that this week, Main Street Philanthropy Founders, Scott Farnsworth and Ryan Ponsford participated on a national teleconference, hosted by the Purposeful Planning Institute, moderated by well known advisor, attorney, author, and thought leader, John A Warnick!  (I highly recommend reading his Seedlings Blog.) 

John A. Warnick (a thought leader in the space of philanthropy and purposeful planning) saw a little bit of what we’ve been working on last November when he attended the SunBridge Advanced Legacy Builder Retreat.  As a result he invited Scott and Ryan to share some of their innovations on a Purposeful Planning Collaborative broadcast.  He also facilitated their landing a speaking spot at the annual conference of the International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy in Las Vegas on April 25th!  (Thanks John!)
“From the “Philanthropic Slush Fund” to “MAD” (Make A Difference) Cards – Putting the Fun Back in Philanthropy” with guest speakers Scott Farnsworth and Ryan Ponsford

Description: A little creativity can go a long way in helping children of all ages get engaged in the sometimes staid world of philanthropy. Scott Farnsworth and Ryan Ponsford describe their unlikely journey in making a difference with high net worth families, lower middle class families, inner city alternative school students, and professional advisors. They’ll also share an advance peek at where their out-of-the-box thinking is taking them (and hopefully the world of philanthropy) next.

The call had tremendous attendance and received wonderful feedback from attendees.  We took multiple calls and emails from top Advisors seeking an opportunity to give back and make an impact in their comunities and in the lives of others.  Many of them we’ll get to meet at the Advisors in Philanthropy national conference next month.  We truly are well on our way to touching the lives of youth across America, creating a thoughtful generation of inspired and intelligent philanthropists!
Thanks for following Main Street Philanthropy!

Great News; It’s Official!

At last, the long awaited exhale!!

Today we received the official notification that our status as a tax exempt organization was approved by the IRS, retroactive to our formation in January!  This is wonderful new for us, for our donors, and especially for the students we’ll get to work with in the coming years! 

It was no small task to compile the information, structure the organization properly, and put all of the checks and balances in place to ensure we are, and will remain, excellent stewards of this important mission for our communities.  The journey of educating and inspiring our future philanthropists through the joys of intelligent giving has just achieved a victory! 

Of course this means we must get on the road of seeking investments from donors to help us achieve our mission!  If you measure Return on Investment in terms of Lives Being Positively Impacted, Main Street Philanthropy may be worthy of consideration! 

Live in San Diego – it’s Main Street Philanthropy!

Preparing future Philanthropists at
Clairemont High School!
We’re bringing philanthropy to Clairemont High School in San Diego!  Last week, Main Street Philanthropy engaged another set of students, this time at Clairemont High with the Academy of Business and Technology (AOBT)!
This class brings together a collaboration between Ryan Ponsford of Main Street Philanthropy and Alan Walter of Clairemont High School who attended Santa Rosa High School together a rather large number of years ago.  Together they are guiding 29 high school juniors and future philanthropists; educating them on the joys of intelligent giving. 
The students got started last week with the MAD Card sort – identifying their personal passions and concerns they’d like to address in the world.  Already we’ve discussed how students’ lives have been impacted from disease, foster care, military service, and faith.  Students are getting to know each other in new ways, gaining deeper understanding of core values of their peers. 
Through this 8-week course, students will identify their core concerns and passions, write a philanthropic mission and vision statement, locate and evaluate non-profit organizations, learn to read a 990 tax return, interview board members, then determine how they will allocate their investment to the organizations – funded by generous donors to Main Street Philanthropy.  Whew – lots to accomplish; not a dull moment! 
As always, blogs are starting this week; you can follow along at www.mainstreetphil.org.  Click on the blog tab and find Clairemont High
Here’s a little about the Academy of Business and Technology: 

What is AOBT?

The award-winning Academy of Business & Technology, or AOBT, is a “school within a school” at Clairemont High that focuses on business, computer, and communication skills. Our three-year program provides college-prep core classes and business career-technical electives in 10th, 11th and 12th grade. Our Mission: The Academy of Business & Technology provides students a supportive, rigorous community where they can take ownership of their education and future; students acquire the technological, financial, and communicative skills necessary to succeed in a college and career environment. We help students invest in their future!

What AOBT offers:

Our academy program is committed to providing students with an array of unique educational activities and opportunities that are not typically incorporated into general education courses such as: • Internships in the business field • Mentorships with community partners • Entrepreneurship training • Instruction in finance and economics • Online business simulations • Field trips to businesses and colleges • Guest speakers on various careers • Job interview & resume guidance • Computer skills in Microsoft applications • Public speaking preparation • College application assistance • Project-based group assignment • Team-building and leadership exercises • Laptop usage across all courses • Problem-based learning projects • Group simulations • Access to laptops and an exclusive academy computer lab

Smart Giving – Inspired Living
Follow the Journey!

Follow these students!

Bringing Philanthropy into Harmony!

As I shared last week, the students at Harmony High School are now into week two of Main Street Philanthropy.  If you enjoy seeing the lives of teenagers transformed in an amazingly positive program, you really ought to follow along their blogs

They’re just getting started, but pay attention as they share their insights, lessons learned, and perspectives of the world and how they can (and will!) make a difference. 

Each time we start a new class, I have a renewed spirit, a new excitement and thrill with the good that can be done in our lives.  We’re inundated with so much tragedy and sorrow in the world, let’s focus on how groups of students are pooling their efforts to make a positive impact. 

With Main Street Philanthropy, we’re developing and inspiring the next generation of philanthropists by helping students experience the joy of intelligent giving! 

Join Us!!

Want to learn about how to bring philanthropy to your school or group?  Interested in participating in changing the lives of students?  Drop me a note; I’d love to share how it works!  

~ RyP

What’s your Passion??

What’s your Passion??
If you had to give away several thousand dollars of real money to a deserving charity in your community, how would YOU decide? That’s the challenge students face in the Main Street Philanthropy program.

Participants start by using our Make A Difference (“MAD”) card-sort activity to identify what gets them excited. They must screen 20 different cards representing 20 areas of charitable focus and narrow the field until they find the three they care most about. As the list of possibilities gets smaller and smaller, the choices get harder and harder.
Once students have found their Top Three interests, they use the back sides of the cards to identify local charitable organizations that align with their personal interests. We group students into small teams based on their Top Three interests.
Then the work begins in earnest. In only eight weeks, participants must investigate, report, evaluate, and finally decide which local charities get the gift.

It’s an exciting adventure jam-packed with important life lessons.

“We change students’ lives by helping them experience
the joy of intelligent giving.”

Bringing Philanthropy to Harmony, Florida!

Today is the day!  Main Street Philanthropy is entering the lives of another group of students, this time at Harmony High School in Harmony, Florida!  Led by Scott Farnsworth, this group is about to embark on an adventure that will impact their lives for many years to come. 
I’m so excited about the progress and upgrades we’ve made to program in the past 8-10 months – more hands on exercises, the development of our MAD (Make A Difference) Cards to help participants identify their personal passions and concerns, and an upgraded workbook to guide them through the experience. 

For the next 8-weeks, the students of Harmony High will embark on an adventure to identify their personal passions and concerns, find organizations that support their cause, evaluate them – quantitative and qualitative, then make a financial investment in their long term success.  I’m thrilled for them, I’m thrilled for Scott, I’m thrilled for the organizations that will receive the support, and for all the people whose lives will be touched by hearing the stories that these students will share. 

Please join me in wishing them a wonderful experience! 


What’s the latest with Main Street Philanthropy??

“What’s the latest with that philanthropy project??” 

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, so thought I’d provide an update!  Main Street Philanthropy is growing, expanding, refining, and nearly ready to return to the scene! 

For the past several months, we have been tuning up the programming as well as the overall business model.  We’re currently in the process of an application for tax exempt status (to be recognized as a 501c3), which is a huge step toward allowing us to grow!  Once this is complete, we will be able to solicit and accept donations (investments!) in our programs in exchange for a tax deduction and the opportunity to positively impact lives.  So watch out when my caller ID pops up on your phone!

We’ve also added a tremendous brain to our team.  Providing insight and advice to our program, Scott Farnsworth, Founder and President of Sunbridge in Florida has joined our team.  Together, we have added refinements to many of the exercises participants go through, we will be adding the role of mentors for each group of participants (Don’t be shy in letting me know if you’re interested in becoming a mentor!), and Scott will be facilitating the program on the eastern front! 

We’re in discussions with several new schools, organizations, and student programs that are interested in participating in the Main Street Philanthropy Challenge!  (If you know of a group that would be a good fit – by all means, do tell!) 

All this is super, but what might be most exciting to me is that we have become very clear with our objective for this program: “to use philanthropy to truly impact and transform the lives of people across America.”  The feedback from the programs so far has revealed that there is impact to those that participate, the donors to the program, the facilitators, and the organizations we evaluate.  Lots of winners in this!  We’ve revamped parts of Main Street Philanthropy to be very intentional about this impact to each of these constituents, and to measure the reach of the program.  Students will be rewarded by sharing their blogs, spreading the word and shouting the message of the wonders of giving! 

There’s much-muchly-much more in the works, but this is all I’m sharing for now!  :O)  Stay tuned, get your checkbooks ready, think about mentoring students, and be on the lookout for more updates! 

Until soon, ~RyP