Giving Cycle aims to distribute its innovative model for experiential youth philanthropy to middle schools nationwide and provide support to teachers and schools who wish to integrate it into their curriculum.
The vision of Giving Cycle is for all students to commit themselves to a lifetime of giving before they reach high school, and this change is influenced at a grassroots level by providing experiential philanthropy opportunities to middle school students. The co-founders, at the ages of 10 and 13 respectively, saw a need to inspire generosity and raise awareness about philanthropy among children.
The model has an innovative design, yet simple execution. Over a period of several months, teams of students identify causes of concern, research nonprofits addressing these issues, identify organizations they deem most worthy of additional support, and develop ideas to further enhance the impact of each selected nonprofit. This holistic effort, the Giving Cycle Challenge, is outlined in a unit plan available for any seventh or eighth grade teacher to implement in accord with school administration and policies.
In the first two years of operation, Giving Cycle has engaged approximately 270 seventh-grade students and their diverse interests have included animal welfare, teen homelessness, veterans affairs, deforestation, ocean pollution, suicide prevention, pediatric cancer, and disaster relief. An in-school assembly held at the end of the Challenge provides the opportunity for the students to present their carefully crafted recommendations to each of the chosen organizations. The audience also includes parents and others vested in celebrating the students’ accomplishments and contributions.
Research in the field of student philanthropy reveals promising results: increased awareness of societal problems, heightened sense of social responsibility, and greater inclination toward civic engagement and volunteerism. The Giving Cycle pledge, which all Challenge participants take, is “I will serve my community in all ways that I can for the rest of my life.” 100 percent of the nonprofit representatives involved to date agreed that the Giving Cycle Challenge observably impacts the students’ worldview and commitment to service.