A Derry school student chosen to help make decisions on funding local projects said it has been a great opportunity to change things for the better.
Matthew Devine, a fifth year student at St. Joseph’s Boys School, has been selected as a panellist of the ‘Change Something Fund,’ an initiative whereby young people get to decide how and where funding should be spent in their city.
Funded by Big Lottery Fund and council as part of ‘Youth 19’, the young philanthropists involved are being facilitated by the Acorn Fund.
Speaking during Philanthropy Fortnight, the 16-years-old from Creggan explained why he stepped forward after spotting a call for panel members on Twitter last summer. “I felt that with current global challenges such as climate change and violence, young people needed a voice and someone had to grasp the opportunity to make that voice heard,” he said.
“Being part of a decision-making panel that will fund projects to help young people in my home city was a great opportunity.
“The first time we got together was an induction session where we met the Mayor and other group members. Later on we got to decide on the rules of how organisations could apply, what we wanted to achieve and what kind of applications we wanted to receive. As a group we settled on the themes of the world around us and the environment and projects that would support youth democracy, skills, education and employment.”
Organisations across Northern Ireland are currently celebrating the positive impacts that philanthropy makes during this year’s Philanthropy Fortnight, which runs until May 26.
Matthew said: “A highlight for me has been meeting the team from Equine Enrichment, one of the successful grantees for Change Something Fund, who are focussed on developing young people’s engagement through working with each other and horses.”
Having taken part in the Change Something Fund, Matthew is keen to continue in a decision making role and make a difference to his local community, hopefully one day becoming an investigative journalist.
Activity over the fortnight will include the launch of new funding opportunities, and in Derry, the Change Something Fund panel of young people will make decisions about how funding should be spent in their city.
“Enormous things are being achieved today through Philanthropy in NI, things which simply wouldn’t happen without the generosity and involvement of local people,” said Siofra Healy, Director of Philanthropy at the Community Foundation.
“During philanthropy fortnight we want to celebrate the difference modern philanthropy is making by recognising the value of what is being achieved and highlighting the impact on local lives.
“Our hope is to encourage even more philanthropy, stimulate debate about what philanthropy means and highlight the joy of giving amongst the young and old, individuals, families and businesses.”
For more information about Philanthropy Fortnight call Julie Sherlock, Community Foundation on 07834 776519.