Each organization has a point of view about the best ways to meet their mission. This is true of organizations serving youth too. When we act on our point of view it becomes a strategy. In our region, there are many strategies being used to change the lives of young people.
At the McElroy Trust, we have a broad point of view about what young people need to thrive. It involves lots of organizations and lots of strategies. One way to imagine this is a river of resources. For many young people, these resources are provided by families, friends, and neighbors. In other cases, we rely on organized community resources to help young people like schools, nonprofits, religious organizations, and other groups.
When you review the McElroy Trust’s grants you can see that the Trust has provided funding to organizations in all parts of the river. That’s important. We need strength in all channels to have a healthy community for kids. Over the past several years, we’ve paid special attention to inspiration and transformation strategies and services. We see this as a niche where the Trust’s resources, connections, and point of view fit particularly well.
So what do we mean by Inspiration and Transformation?
The Trust is interested in change among individual young people and changes in our community.
Inspiration in young people: Do you remember a moment as a kid when you fell in love with an activity or idea or an organization? Maybe you were consumed by a live banjo performance, or learning about a local hero at a museum, or watching your aunt start a business. Can you remember the spark you felt? That’s what we want for every young person in the Trust’s region. We want to see every young person “on fire” about their future. We want them to be inspired by a path forward. We’re agnostic about what topic in which they should be inspired. Students might be inspired by robots or singing or soccer or poetry or hip hop or cooking or math or car repair or….. the list goes on. In a big region, it will take many opportunities for all young people to feel on fire about their future. The Trust grants to many inspiring activities in our region. They are varied but usually have one thing in common — they are awesome enough to make a young person excited and motivated.
Transformation in young people: Once you’re inspired, what happens next? It’s time for transformation. What makes us excited at the McElroy Trust is when young people are the leaders of their own transformation. That they have the opportunity to plot their course and rise to the occasion. We think that transformation often happens when we’re challenged beyond what we think we’re capable of. And, we think there’s often a trusted (and trustworthy) adult nearby serving as a guide. Transformation could mean singing on stage, building a robot, running a marathon, teaching a class to kindergarten students, taking the ACT, building a tool shed….. the list goes on. Again, the Trust is agnostic about the topic, as long as the young person plays a role in leading their own transformation.
We also believe that the McElroy Trust plays a role in inspiring and transforming our communities to be better places for children. This work always happens in partnership because the work is too big for anyone organization. (That’s another point of view that we hold dearly). The Trust relishes the role of innovation scout, community convener, and champion of important issues related to young people. In essence, the McElroy Trust works to connect ideas, people, and resources to help young people thrive.