The End – A noteworthy journal entry

As you all know by now, as students go through Main Street Philanthropy, they are encouraged to blog each week about their experience – what they’re learning, the impact the course is having, etc.  The number of incredible insights is way beyond our ability to share each and every one, but here and there we extract and share them.

This particular blog entry was written by a student from our MSP class in New Jersey.  Read it, enjoy it, and if you feel so inclined, share your thoughts, or even consider supporting other students’ ability to participate in Main Street Philanthropy!

The End

I cannot believe it is already over. It feels as if I was just walking into the Key Club room for the first session of Main Street Philanthropy where I met Mr. Levey and received my sacred course book. This journal will act as a reflection on all my work and progress through this course as well as a look to the future.

The thing I will remember most about Main Street Philanthropy will be the people. The reason I love activities like this is because it is a place to meet similar minded service lovers. Talking with others who had the same passions and visions as me was invigorating. Knowing that my concerns were not singular was comforting. A valuable lesson I learned during these weeks was how to handle my money when giving to charities. For me philanthropy has always meant doing service and giving time to a cause. Now that I earn my own funds through jobs, I want to be able to donate smartly, making sure that the money I give is being used wisely and towards the actual cause of the organization. I know that the experience I had with this course only got me more enthusiastic about donating my time and money towards causes I am concerned about.

If I was to give advice to a nonprofit organization looking to receive support from a philanthropist I would say a key factor is solid communication. If an organization returns calls and emails, and has dedicated members who are willing to explain and answer questions about their cause, people are more likely to volunteer and donate.

To others who are considering the Main Street Philanthropy Course– I say DO IT!!! It never hurts to try something you are curious about, or interested in, because you never know the positive results you can gain from a unique opportunity such as this. Programs like this one do not exist everywhere, and getting the chance to be a part of one is quite special. I can guarantee that people of all types and interests kind find a takeaway from this course, whether thats learning more about yourself, donations, charities, worldly causes, team work or planning a fundraiser.

I would rather be given $25 to keep than $250 to give away. Now I know this answer seems selfish but the reason I would rather be given funds is because when donating you get no control over where your money is going and you are not included in the process of it being used to help a cause. If I was given $25 of my own I would use it towards creating my own event to support a cause I care about. For example, last year I created a Battle of the Bands at my school on a budget of $0, lots of planning, and a great support system, and we raised over $800! It is possible that with $25 more than $250 could be raised and during the process you can have the power over where your money is going and who it is impacting. I know at the beginning of this course I would have chosen option b, to donate $250, because at first glance it seems like the better answer. But what Main Street Philanthropy gets you to do, is think deeper and harder about the change one can create, and become more creative with what resources you are presented.

~Ilina G., High School Student and Philanthropist


Thank you Ilina for your insight, your wisdom, and participation in Main Street Philanthropy!   It’s young adults like you that give us the confidence that there is hope for our future!  There are capable minds to lead us now and in the future.  Keep up the great work!

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)!

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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….

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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


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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….

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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


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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!

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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



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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!



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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!