We Trust You(th) was present at Philea Forum 2022 in Barcelona last week, alongside 20 other young people from Fundación ONCE, Wormy, Fondation Botnar and the Basel Youth Initiative. Together we spent the week advocating for more equitable collaborations between youth-led efforts and foundations. Alongside Philea’s Child and Youth Thematic Network, we conducted a workshop that was filled to the max with 100+ foundation representatives looking to learn how to work with young people more intentionally. As young people, we also supported the development and launch of a mapping of some of the ways current foundations are working with children and young people. This is a starting point, not the finish line.
Next, we will be reaching out to the foundations interested in digging in and building relationships and partnerships. For now, to mark Philea’s first annual forum we’d like to share We Trust You(th)’s and a few other young people’s visions for philanthropy in the next ten years… let’s see how our newly forming partnerships can help get us there!
Mariana Reyes & Carys Striling, 19 & 25
From the connections we made, conversations we had, email addresses we exchanged and business cards we rapidly ran out of, it is clear that there are funders in the European philanthropy space who want to work better with young people. But it is also clear that there’s still work to be done to make forums like this even more productive, inclusive and participatory. It is not enough to invite young people, or any other group that usually does not participate in these spaces, and state that’s enough. Occupying a physical space within the conference does not immediately translate to youth people participating meaningfully. These spaces should be thought from the beginning as safe for everyone.
In ten years’ time, we hope that it’s the norm to hear not only from adult ‘experts’ but from young people themselves when we are discussing both ‘young peoples’ issues’ and societal issues as a whole.
Meaningful youth participation will be well understood and tokenism will be a thing of the past. Young peoples’ meaningful participation, in panel discussions, evaluation of projects, decision making spaces and grantmaking itself, will be a ‘must have’, not a ‘nice to have’, because funders will truly understand that having young people at the table helps us all to make better decisions.
Professional forums like Philea will be designed with young people, and other groups traditionally excluded from the philanthropy world, at the front and centre. They will be visible in the panel discussions, organising team, staff, networking events, coffee break discussions, and workshop tables. Productive change of ideas is what makes these spaces special and worth having. Young people should not only be invited but enough efforts need to be taken to make them part of all of these innovation and solution making conversations.
The philantropy we want to see is one in which foundations are not only willing to work with young people but also actively adapt and change their way of working to make it productive for everyone.
Mireya Bilbao Barbero, 24
Including a wide range of perspectives, ideas and experience of individuals from diverse backgrounds is a powerful strategy to make philanthropy more resilient. Diverse organizations are more productive, make better decisions and are more innovative, foundations and philanthropy organizations should not be the exception.
The participation of children and youth, people with disabilities, women, et cetera is essential to make decisions and seek for solutions including the people and communities affected. In 10 years, I would like to see those traditionally viewed only as ‘beneficiaries’ part of the conversation #NothingForUsWithoutUs
Dean Martin & Adam Neira, 18 & 17
We, Wormy presume that it’s a matter of time philanthropy becomes a movement led by the people affected by the problems it aims to solve. That being said, we take for granted the participation of young people in these philanthropic matters, and we go beyond that to present a new overlooked concern: new upcoming challenges.
We are going through the fourth Industrial Revolution, which means we are currently experiencing economical and social changes like never before. Philanthropy is fighting against current difficulties without even taking into consideration the ones that are being created now. If we don’t get philanthropy to solve these new challenges when they are neither significant nor big enough, in ten years we will fight against not only traditional issues but the one we are creating now and don’t know how to fix. An example of this being the Metaverse, a platform inside the internet that allows you to do your daily activities such as going to the theatre, working or exercising inside it and not behind a screen. This could very much aggravate mental health problems and hinder our fight against climate change due to the energy this system requires to exist.
That’s why it’s crucial that young people lead the philanthropic movement. We know the upcoming problems and can easily find effective solutions.
Bianca Băluță, 26
We all know that we are living in the times when change is essential for our impact to be aligned with the needs of those that we are working for. And that is also what foundations are experiencing.
Working for Fondation Botnar in OurCity project gave me the opportunity to experience implementing systemic approaches, rather than silos ones, working through collaboration rather than competition, working to support sustainable long-term ecosystem rather than punctual on-time funding, and finally, working for & with the beneficiaries, rather than only for the beneficiaries.
During the Philea Forum I realised that is not just an opportunity of connecting, but also a unique opportunity of learning together. That is why I am hopeful that in 10 years now, the European Philantropic Foundations will completely transfer their visions towards supporting life sustaining society-type of initiatives based on values and care, rather than the business as usual – economic growth projects. In addition, I believe that foundations have an important role not only in promoting collaboration and supporting collaborative projects, but also to practice it with other foundations. Finally, but in my opinion the most important, is the participatory practice with regards to young people. I hope that in 10 years, the philanthropic foundatis would have had seen the value brought by creative & unconventional minds and also having young people as part of their teams will be the normal, not the special practice.
Sophia Schwager, 25
Fondation Botnar (Basel Youth Initiative / CATAPULT)
@baselyouthinititative (soon to be @catapultbasel)
With the project ‘Basel Youth Initiative’ aka ‘CATAPULT’ at Fondation Botnar I see how valuable and empowering the work with and for young people is. The vision is to strengthen the self-determined and self-effective co-creation of young people in society and the environment. To realize this vision, we are building, developing and founding a new funding platform with and for young people. This radical inclusion of young people is unfortunately not yet the norm and ubiquitous today. I believe it is time to change this. If we want to change something in society for young people, we need to include them. Because if we include different perspectives (young and old), we can do great things and learn from each other.
I hope that in 10 years this will be the norm and not the exception as it is now, to have young people actively participate in philanthropic work.
We Trust You(th) is an initiative that is co-led by five youth-led organizations from around the world, challenging and supporting youth-focused donors and NGOs to partner and fund young people more intentionally and equitably.