Empowering Youth Philanthropy: A Decade of Impact at MBIT

Middle Bucks Institute of Technology

JAMISON, PA — In the heart of Bucks County, a group of dedicated high school students has been quietly revolutionizing the world of philanthropy. For the past ten years, Middle Bucks Institute of Technology (MBIT) has been home to the Philanthropy Today Club (PTC), a platform where students learn about charitable giving in an authentic, impactful way.

Funded by the Raab and Heenan Foundations, the Club manages $20,000 of student-led grants annually, making it the only known student-managed philanthropic organization of its kind. Initiated by a $5,000 grant from the Raab Foundation in 2014, the Club has grown in popularity year by year, now managing two distinct $10,000 grants, each with its unique guidelines.

As each academic year commences, a new cohort of MBIT students is initiated into the world of philanthropy. Guided by a unique mission statement, the students harness their collective power to identify community needs, research local organizations, and distribute funds to those that align with their mission. To ensure the process is democratic and transparent, students determine, through voting, who will receive a grant and who will be declined.

In 2024, the Philanthropy Today Club prioritized youth equity, promoting access to educational resources and extracurricular activities, particularly for disadvantaged and special populations. The Club also identified the pressing need for safe and accepting environments addressing mental health concerns among students. The six organizations funded from the Raab Grant in 2024 catered to these needs, providing tailored educational resources, vital enrichment activities, and support for mental health interventions.

The Heenan Grant, conversely, presents students with a different challenge each year. In the 2023-2024 academic year, the students were tasked with redesigning and refinishing two waiting areas for the Bucks County Family Court and Children and Youth department. Drawing on their career and technical skills, students collaborated across disciplines to create welcoming spaces designed to offer comfort to families.

Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. County administration and Justice department members attended the dedication ceremony of the redesigned spaces in May 2024, honoring the students with a Proclamation and Certificates. The recognition from government officials not only accentuated the importance of their work but also made the students feel seen and valued in their community.

The endeavors of the Philanthropy Today Club aren’t merely about giving back; they also offer invaluable experiential learning opportunities. Dr. Mark Covelle, Administrative Director of MBIT, encapsulated this sentiment by stating that observing the students’ growth and maturity through the process was a “true joy to witness.”

In celebration of the Club’s ten-year milestone, the Raab Foundation made an additional donation to purchase a new vehicle for student transportation. The Club’s dedicated advisor, Pamela Swoyer, expressed her gratitude, noting that the Club has created a “small army of budding philanthropists.”

With a decade of success behind them, the hardworking students of the Philanthropy Today Club at MBIT are continuously striving towards a more inclusive and supportive future. Their mission, inspired by their experience, is to foster a culture of giving back that transcends the boundaries of their campus and has a lasting impact on the world.

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