Partnering for Youth Voice: GTCF Youth Philanthropy Board
Over the past 38 years, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation has seen Pierce County grow and change, but what has remained constant is the passion people bring to building a thriving community. Sharing community knowledge and stories about our lived experiences builds everyone’s ability to make a positive impact.
In our latest annual book of Pierce County Partners, we share stories and insights from individuals and organizations who are making a difference in Pierce County. In their own words, they speak about the dreams and lessons that fuel their work in the community.
“When I grew up in Tacoma, I didn’t want to be here. YPB gave me a reason to come back, reconnect with my community, and be the person I needed.” – Dylan Tran, Youth Philanthropy Board member
Since 2011, GTCF’s Youth Philanthropy Board (YPB) has provided young people in Pierce County an opportunity to identify, explore, and address their concerns for their community by using philanthropic resources to support change.
This year, the YPB identified youth returning to community after justice-involvement as a major issue they wanted to address. To better understand the issue, YPB members organized a special convening with a panel of representatives from Pierce County Juvenile Court, Pierce County Executive’s Office, and Team Child to discuss causes and alternatives to justice involvement for youth. Participants from 14 local organizations also discussed how youth voice could play a bigger role in their work.
In preparation for the convening, Youth Philanthropy Board members took the lead in making decisions about who should attend, how the dialogue would be formatted, and what questions they wanted to ask.
Janece Levien, GTCF Program Officer, guides the YPB, “These youth and young adults are the future leaders of Pierce County, so we have to start listening to them, understanding them, and giving them the space to have their voice heard and actions taken from it.”
Following the convening, the participating Pierce County organizations received a total of $72,500 in general operating grants.
“It is rare that a group of youth can make a decision that directly impacts them, let alone make a decision that will improve the lives of other youth in their community. Too often youth find their voices overshadowed by adults and the YPB helped us take what is directly affecting ourselves and the youth around us into our own hands.” – Rita Tumbusch
“It is very hard to find a place where your opinion matters, especially when you are young. YPB has allowed me to be a part of great cohort where I was able to apply the skills I never knew and where the youth really had the ability to speak up for what they believe in.” – Cristobal Luevanos
“Hearing everyone’s input about the juvenile court system and the youth in there made me realize that we are all human and it’s important to not have prejudgment about anyone.” – NgocBich (Kim) Tran