Week 9 Blog

Week 9 was interesting. I had realized by then that the class was almost over and we did not have too much time together before the final day.

In class, now that we had gotten our organizations chosen and designated our fundraising money to a specific organization, it was time to reflect on the class as a whole and talk about the benefits and the experience we, the students, had achieved.

We also wrote little essays and reflections about what Main Street Philanthropy had accomplished for us, how our life perspectives on everything were changed to more positive and thankful and grateful ones, and how I will continue to make the world a better place by doing my part and advancing my vision for the world.

I talked about how this class was a very unique experience, one that I believe a lot of people should not overlook. This class was truly a unique experience for me because I do not believe that I will go this into depth into philanthropy and the philosophies behind it, and be able to actually communicate with real leaders of organizations and programs that are changing the world and making it a better place to live, and I thought that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am very grateful for it. I realized through this program how many opportunities and chances I have to make my life better, and how grateful I should be for all of the privileges around me. This class has not only taught me important information on the logistics of philanthropy i.e. how to wisely donate money, trust the organization it is going to in order to make sure the money is being put into good use, and taxes and Form 990s that describe the income and outcome of money as well as purchases and profit. This class has taught me to love the people around me and truly put time and effort into making something happen that will benefit people who need my help, because I will experience joy and passion for the work that I have done and I will ultimately experience happiness, something that is rare at times because of all of the stress surrounding me with school, extracurricular activities, etc. in my life. I am thankful for this special program that has made me into a financially, educationally, and characteristically turned me into a wiser person with a bigger heart.

I hope to continue communicating with MSP and Yale as well as the organization that our group has decided to donate to through perhaps phone calls and (mostly) emails. I will definitely continue trying to help people in the general area of health, as our group had focused on helping sick children, which I think we will have accomplished by finally handing in our check to our organization. In the future, I will try to arrange different organizations regarding health such as soup kitchens that feed the hungry to allow Key Clubbers to participate and do service for the community. I will definitely tell my sister about this program so that hopefully if this program is also offered to her in high school, she will be able to learn more about the world and philanthropy through the teachers and the workbooks and the information that is taught to the students.

I hope MSP the best in the future and I would like to try to make this experience the start of something newer that will leave a positive imprint on the world.

Week 8 Blog

Week 8 was the time when our groups had to present to which organization(s) our final fundraising money was going to, and our group had met up earlier in the library to make a final decision.

In our presentation, we had included the results of the interviews with our family members and friends as well as finally revealing the amount of money we had raised as well as the organizations we would be giving our money to… and we chose one of the organizations that we thought really accomplished our Mission by supporting and helping sick children. I am glad that that organization would finally be receiving money to help suffering children with disease and cancer and our group hopes the money will be put into good use immediately so we can see the positive impact we have made on the world by helping those in need.

We wish our organization as well as all of the other organizations that Main Street will donate to will benefit greatly from our checks and make the world a better place.

Week 7 Blog

Week 7 was also a great and educational experience.

During class, we discussed the potential organizations that we could donate our fundraising money to, and tried to figure out which organizations/charities fulfilled our Mission, Purpose, and Vision statements that we had originally created back in Week 3. While we pondered those choices, we also tried to think about what organizations our money would actually make a difference in, i.e. what organizations we thought would really benefit from the moderate size of money we had raised from our fundraisers (i.e., the organizations that had been founded to serve the community recently or earlier than the other organizations that had been around for a little more time and therefore did not have as much time to grow and develop into a more wealthy organization).

We learned that our homework was to interview a parent or a loved one that we associate ourselves with and ask them deep philosophical questions as well as take a couple of moments to try to gain a deeper understanding and connection with him/her, which I thought was a great idea.

Through talking about the different possibilities of the organizations we would be presenting our money to, our team was able to bond and I am thankful for that.

Week 6 Post

Week 6, at least I thought, was pretty cool.

Although I didn’t get a chance to hear a lot more about the organizations that were represented by their leaders/representatives due to a schedule conflict, upon my late arrival to class, I thought that the last couple of minutes when I did get a chance to hear about them were informational and opened my mind to the effort and thought that goes into making such organizations a success, conveyed through the tone and manner of the representatives.

Both representatives were very professional, dressed cleanly but not to properly because they were not at a business meeting, smiling and direct with their information.

I got a chance to hear both representatives speak for their organizations, and I thought the lady was very charming and charismatic. She had a bright face with a bright smile on the whole entire time, especially when she was talking, and what she was saying was very direct and focused on the information she knew about her organization.

Our team (Health, trust, pixie dust) had requested that one of the representatives from the Valerie Fund come to speak for our panel class, and one did (actually, the leader of the organization), which was great and exciting. He also had a warm smile on the whole entire time he was talking, and he was also very focused on what he was saying because we were observing the representatives’ every move.

I listened to a couple of students ask questions at the end of the meeting regarding what the representatives had said or in general directed toward the organizations, and the representatives were very quick to answer and had exact answers that directly addressed the questioner, which I thought was fantastic.

All in all, I thought the panel class gave me a new experience because see the energy that these people displayed and the passion they showed for the organizations they worked for, and it inspired me to try to have the same passion and confidence in everything I do.

Week 5 Post

On week 5 (two weeks ago from today), we explored more in depth the meanings of all of the numbers and mathematical data on a form 990. By exploring the significance of these numbers, we learned that these numbers, although punctual in fact and detail and not seemingly bad, can contain a lot of hidden, deeper meaning and deceive the viewer when not studied carefully. When certain numbers are compared with the rest of the numbers through qualitative analysis of the numbers (i.e., seeing the greater patterns that the numbers do not convey themselves), we learned that one can truly understand the company’s approach with money. After going through an example of this shocking realization, for example, if a certain organization had gotten billions of dollars in revenue but only spent a couple thousand dollars on employees and a lot more (millions) on advertising and marketing expenses, why would this be? Coming up with hypothetical situations to serve as answers to this peculiar situation definitely gave me a chance to think and really ponder the meaning of those numbers. In this aspect, Main Street helped me to see that the observation of the pattern and analysis of numbers can expose hidden, darker secrets or successes that any company or organization can have, all on their 990 which is publicly accessible and usually easy to access.

Our class also used the quantitative data from the form 990s of our selected charities in order to evaluate their ranking (out of three points) in certain categories such as the program ratio, the management ratio, etc. These rankings were added up and given over a total possible score of 15. Based on this score, we could see how well the organization/charity had done in terms of profit and making money as well as how they had spent their money (if they had used their money wisely). It was interesting to see the total scores of certain organizations.

Finally, we also went through what to expect for the next week (our first panel class with real representatives representing their organizations!) and reviewed what types of questions we would be asking the representatives.

Week 5 was a time where there were a lot of interesting things that I learned that I had never known before and I think this prepped everyone for the following week (Week 6).

Week 4 Blog

Being almost halfway through the course and heading towards the end of it, week 4 went by really quickly.

During class, we reviewed what we had learned the previous week and also learned everything we, as students and potential donors, needed to know about taxes. We learned that taxes are a way for us to serve our community by providing public service organizations with money to give us service such as the police, school, etc., and that taxes have an important cause behind them. We also learned about Form 990’s, which are documents that document the purchases and revenue of an organization or company. By examining and evaluating these Forms, we can see if the organization will be trustworthy aka have a stable source of revenue, be able to pay taxes without losing money, etc. We can see if our investment in the organization will be a wise one and grow, or be a poor one and fail. This was interesting to me because I had never really thought about all of the money that an organization deals with in such a precise manner, that every activity and every purchase that the organization makes is recorded on a public document, one that everyone can access online at any time. It really goes to show that the organizations are putting themselves out there and will have to face judgment from the rest of us based on their Form 990, one thing among others.

I think by this point, the Valerie Fund seems the most worthy of organizations to donate to because of its locality and professionalism, although I have no idea if Eloise was able to reach them by phone and if she was successful.

I did not have time to cold call this week, so hopefully I will have time in the future to do so. Hopefully, I will not put off this task in the future again, because my calling will only benefit my group.

I hope that we can have a lovely and informational class today in Main Street Phil, and I hope that we can accomplish much in the little time that we have remaining, as we have done the previous weeks.

Week 3 Reflection

It was another great day in the Main Street Philanthropy class last week. We were able to learn more about different charities and organizations that could help the cause that we had picked a couple of weeks before.

We started off the class by sitting together with our groups and discussing what our “Purpose, Vision, and Mission” statement would be. A “Purpose, Vision, and Mission” statement is a statement that summarizes what our main focus and topic will be in the program. Our statement, or team purpose, was “to serve our community by supporting sick children”. We decided on children and health and welfare as our main topics, and merged them into a more specific category, sick children with diseases or cancers or mental illnesses. The impact that we envisioned was to not only donate money, as we will all have to do, but visit hospitals and places where children with diseases would be and support them. We imagined helping them, socializing with them, and being people that they could talk to if they have had a rough day, or if they just want to talk. We would be a great team to support them because we are not adults, we are still kids and teenagers like them, so it would be helpful for them to connect and socialize with someone their age or a little older. If we were adults, they probably would feel a little awkward and shy with us and not want to talk as much or at all.

I expect to encounter various types of people on the phone and emails, but I imagine that they will all try to be helpful and positive, just like I will be when talking to them.

Looking at the fact sheets on pages 18-27, specifically under the “Health” page, I learned that my body produces 4-5 billion red blood cells per hour. I also learned that in 2003, 2.3 million kids around our age abused at least one controlled prescription drug. One other fact that I learned was that childhood obesity has increased by a lot partly due to the food portions that have increased in size (bagels, hamburgers, pasta).

I look forward to today’s meeting, and I hope I will learn something new and exciting that will change my perception of the world in a more positive light.

Week 2 Blog

Today was another exciting day and the second of the many days of learning and education that we will experience in this 10-week course. Here is a recap and reflection of the events that occurred today in Main Street Phil:

At the beginning of class, we quickly recapped what we did last week (the first week). Then, as our homework had required us to do so, we brought in brown paper bags with 3 items that we thought represented us or told a story about us and our personality or life experiences. My group members Taylor, Emily, and Eloise took out pictures, snapshots of important and fun events in their lives displayed on a piece of paper as well as bracelets to represent their love and dedication to a certain camp they have been going to for years. Personally, I brought in a fork to represent my love of cooking and food, a measuring spoon to represent my love for not only baking as it might seem but also my bad habit of perfecting things and being precise and organized whenever possible. I also brought in a marker to demonstrate my love of art and drawing and sketching and doodling and being creative in my free time. When we were presenting to each other these items with seemingly little meaning, we were able to make these objects a symbol of our lives and were able to see that the little things in life can be a huge representation of greater sentimental value, which is interesting to me after the exercise now that I am reflecting on it. I also learned hidden passions and events that my group members love and experienced, which was interesting because I got to know a little more about them and share my experiences as well.

Our next task was to come up with a group name based on our interests of the main modern social issues in society. We compared the top three (everything significant seems to revolve around the number three here) issues that we had chosen from the MAD (“Make a Difference”) cards and realized that our group had chosen pretty similar issues as our main areas of concern (even our instructor, Yale, told us that it was fairly easy to put our group together because of the similarity of the issues we chose). We had mainly chosen Hunger and Public Health and Welfare and either Mental Illnesses or Child and Youth Services. Our group agreed to put together a name that reflected our collective point of view, an idea about helping people. Our first attempt was “People Promoters”. This name was very vague, as all of the issues that our society faces and other groups chose are all social issues and involve helping out other people. We picked another one: “Health Helpers”. This was more specific and the alliteration was catchy, but it was a bit plain. Then, Taylor got a sudden impulse and decided on a name: “Youth, trust, pixie dust”. It had a certain rhyme to it that was playful and creative, but our main issues were hunger and medical care and child care, although a major concern to us, was not a major topic we had agreed on. So, we decided to replace “Youth” with “Health” to convey that our issues were focusing on health (hunger and medical care directly affect the health of an individual). “Trust” connotes that we are reliable and helpers and “pixie dust” conveys the meaning that there is something magical in helping people who are less fortunate or need help and that it creates a magnificent change in him or her as well as us.

Our group’s fundraiser will most likely be a bake sale with healthy treats instead of junky ones because of our promotion of a more healthy, happy, and well-balanced life.

We, as a group, are off to a great start and hopefully we can continue to share information and collaborate in this organization and beyond.

Reflection

Right from the first day of class, I could tell that this program was going to be a beneficial and educational experience, and I’m glad that I chose to be a part of this organization to educate the youth about philanthropy and the many aspects of it.

The first day of class, we went over the guidelines and purposes of this class, which were to educate ourselves of the financial aspect of philanthropy and other areas of understanding we will achieve later on in the course.

We also “played” with cards with various problems and areas of concern that still exist in the world today. We were asked to pick 6 cards out of the pile and explain the reason why we picked those cards to a partner. Out of those 6 cards, we eliminated 3 and chose our top 3 issues. These issues reflected our point of view and the problems we would like to eliminate or help make better.

My top 3 cards were Hunger, Childcare, and General Public Welfare and Healthcare. I chose Hunger because I believe that food is the most basic and essential component of life, and all people should have access to food. To not have food is like not having access to life, and I believe that all people have the right to live. I also like cooking and food and I felt fortunate to be so blessed with the ability to access food at all times and want to help others who cannot.

I chose Childcare because children are the future generation of our society, and they deserve the most care and attention because they will lead the world in the future. I care about our future and want to make sure that the children of our modern world grow up to be well-educated and leaders with great characteristics.

Finally, I chose public welfare and healthcare because the public needs to maintain a certain level of health to live, and if the public is not healthy, they are not happy. Happiness is a choice that everyone should make in their lives, and being healthy whether emotionally, mentally, and/or physically is essential to lead a successful life.

I hope that we continue to learn more about ways to help solve or eliminate the mentioned problems in our society and continue to gain higher levels of understanding in our world today.