The New Youth Program emerges out of The Prospect Hill Foundation’s Year of Reflection (2017-2018) during which the board of directors evaluated the Foundation’s administration, management and grantmaking functions and priorities. This time of deliberation overlapped with the emerging leadership of the Beinecke family’s third generation. Together, the second and third generations decided unanimously to phase out three of the four Foundation’s long-standing program areas in order to create a new grantmaking focus, while continuing their commitment of the Nuclear Disarmament & Nonproliferation program.
A new Program Committee, comprised entirely of third generation members, was created and tasked to develop the new program. Carrie S. Elston is the chair, and Ben Beinecke, Lizzie Elston and Jesse Smith are members. In addition to staffing the work, we asked Penny Fujiko Willgerodt, PHF’s executive director, to be a member of the committee as well. We invited Ana Oliveira, president of the New York Women’s Foundation, to join the committee to help us develop this new program. Marci McLendon served as the consultant.
Why We Are Launching the New Youth Program We are driven not only by the understanding that all issues are deeply interconnected, but also by the rise of xenophobia; unfettered displays of racism and white supremacy; and the unfolding of the Me Too movement. The current national crisis of family separation at the border, as well as the violence and trauma inflicted upon children and young people in our communities, has had a particular effect on us.
As human beings we are responding to all the children born into this world. They need to be respected as new beginnings. The violence and trauma being inflicted upon children and young people, especially in communities of color, feels visceral and urgent. What is the world that we are leaving for our children? How are we going to bring up the next generation? What is our responsibility, and how can we best utilize our privilege and the opportunities offered to us? With this in mind, the New Youth Program’s focus is on children and young people.
In further developing the New Youth Program, we realize we need to look inward as well as outward to deepen our understanding of social change movements and the root causes of oppression. We committed ourselves to a year of learning from 2018-2019. This included workshops and trainings about: anti-blackness and Black-led organizing; fear and hatred of immigrants and the bold leadership of young immigrants, citizens and non-citizens; misogyny and trans-led movements for gender justice; the devastating impact of economic injustice and the community-led development of new economies; and the value of community leadership, including the importance of community leadership within nonprofits.
We had the privilege of meeting with, and learning from, many community and movement leaders, activists, and other experts whose experience and generous offering of wisdom was invaluable to us. Our learning culminated in a new values statement that became the driving force of the New Youth Program framework. This statement is our own call to action and accountability for a world in which everyone can experience justice and liberation.
This learning practice continues, and we are taking our learning to our fellow PHF directors. Last year, we organized a Foundation-wide training entitled From Women’s Rights to Gender Justice: Patriarchy & Transgender People, designed and led by Alex Lee, Project Director for Grantmakers United For Trans Communities. This training gave us a deeper analysis of gender that is trans-inclusive, and built upon our family’s decades-long legacy of funding for women’s rights, reproductive justice and sexual health. This year, Kanene Ayo Holder, artist and educator, will be leading a workshop on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the board of directors.
We understand that the time is ripe to re-examine traditional structures of philanthropy and experiment with new approaches. For example, in thinking about accountability, we are committed to applying principles of evaluation introspectively to assess the Foundation’s effectiveness, rather than just assessing the work of the grantees.
Above all, we seek to live by example and the New Youth Program is our expression of our commitment to living our values in a philanthropic context. The New Youth Program Committee’s vision for the New Youth Program is to move some of The Prospect Hill Foundation’s resources to those who have not enjoyed the opportunities, power and benefits that resources such as these bring, simply due to the haphazard destiny of birth.
We realize this power shift is slow, but we are committed to continued learning and are grateful for the wise counsel of community leaders and practitioners.
We commit to listening carefully and doing our very best in executing this new program of grants. We hope that in a small way we may contribute to the work of other family foundations and philanthropists on a similar journey.
Carrie S. Elston, New Youth Program Committee Chair
Ana Oliveira, President, New York Women’s Foundation
Penny Fujiko Willgerodt, Executive Director, PHF