Charity begins at high school

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Queenstown’s well known for its pioneering role in adventure tourism, but it’s also become the country’s birthplace for youth philanthropy. Philip Chandler visits Wakatipu High to learn about Generation Give from both students and their mentors

Think philanthropy, and you probably think of benevolent business tycoons giving away vast sums to charities.

In Queenstown, however, that benevolent spirit’s been taken up by three young Wakatipu High alumni, who’ve in turn recruited 18 current students for a ground-breaking, year-long ‘Generation Give’ programme.

The original inspiration came from former Wakatipu High School Foundation executive director Jennifer Belmont.

She’s now CEO of the Wakatipu Community Foundation, which aims to create a big pot for local charities from endowment funds.

Impressed by how the community-funded school foundation helped fund disadvantaged students through its Awhi Fund, she wanted to cultivate that culture of giving amongst students themselves.

She was aware that youth philanthropy’s popular in the United States, so she went to Boston to look at how a long-established programme worked. As a result, she tapped three recent Wakatipu High graduates – Beatrice Onions, Hugh Taylor and her son Chris – to create Youth Philanthropy New Zealand (YPNZ).

YPNZ, in collaboration with the community foundation, then developed a pilot Generation Give programme which has run all year at the school.

The trio first asked all students for applications to join the programme.

They then selected 18, with varying attributes, from Years 9 to 13.

That Generation Give council, including an executive board led by head boy Archie Ritchie, has met each week this school year, with mentoring from the YPNZ trio.

 

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