The History of The Youth Generosity Project
From its inception, The Youth Generosity Project has focused its efforts on youth in Blaine County, Idaho. It has been rooted in the belief that generosity is essential for a community to grow and thrive. The Youth Generosity Project, originally known as Wow-Students, began as a grassroots endeavor. Its founder, Morley Golden was struck by the impact generosity had on the community and culture in the Wood River Valley, and began to wonder how people became generous, what sustained their giving, and what forms generosity can take.
It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to youth-- to examine the ways in which children are inherently generous and the incredible power of their voices to make change. As the conversation developed, so did a core group of individuals committed to deepening the opportunities for youth to be generous in the Wood River Valley. These individuals-- Wow’s initial investors, made it possible for the organization to provide $25 dollars for all students to donate to a local nonprofit. Wow’s programs quickly evolved beyond monetary philanthropy to immerse K-12 students in all angles of the philanthropic experience: time, talent, and treasure.
The organization’s partnerships grew to encompass 40 local nonprofits and K-12 classrooms in each school of our valley. Students have worked with nonprofits to complete hands-on projects that impact the quality of life in Blaine County. These became lovingly known throughout our valley as "Wow projects"! Collectively, in nine years Wow-Students have donated over half a million dollars to local nonprofits, countless hours of their time, and made lasting contributions that range from cleaner, safer trails to recreate on to a soup kitchen that provides people with nourishment they might not otherwise have.
Today, our team continues to work with students in all grades and schools across the valley even though we have shifted our focus in many ways. We have developed age-appropriate opportunities that allow high school students to take the reins and try their hands as generous leaders of the community-- eliciting and awarding grants to local nonprofits; we turn to youth of all ages for their creative solutions to community problems, and we encourage children and adults alike to work together to make our valley an even better place; a place where people have a sense of responsibility to all community members and it’s members seeks to address complex problems.