Tam’s YouthGive club holds awareness event

On a bright, sunny afternoon at the Mill Valley Depot on May 21st, the YouthGive Club held their third annual YouthFest, featuring live music, activities for children, a silent auction, and a bake sale.

“It’s an awareness event for the eight Millennium Development Goals created by the United Nations,” said senior club member Emily Deng.

In September 2010 there was a United Nations Millennium Development Goals summit. At this summit it was decided that a worldwide effort would begin to improve women’s and children’s overall health. They called this effort the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

This summit aims “to achieve the eight anti-poverty goals by their 2015 target date and the announcement of major new commitments for women’s and children’s health and other initiatives against poverty, hunger and disease,” according to the Millennnium Development Goals web site.

The eight Millennium Development Goals focus on ending poverty and hunger, establishing universal education, ensuring gender equality and children’s and maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, and building environmental sustainability in addition to a global partnership.

“The Tam club helped to choose which non-profit organization is doing good work in each of these areas,” said Dan Siegel, one of the co-founders of YouthGive. The club is part of a philanthropic non-profit organization based in Mill Valley and Marin that focuses on young people making a positive impact on their world.

“YouthGive helps to grow the next generation of compassionate givers and global citizens, believing that everyone can be a philanthropist,” said YouthGive’s web site. “Giving and service can raise awareness at an early age about critical social and environmental issues, and build hope for one’s ability to make a difference.”

The organizations that YouthGive selected to donate to included Nepal Freed, Camfed, Angkor Hospital For Children, International Medical Corps, Right To Play, and Charity Water.

“We pick eight new organizations each year [for YouthFest],” said YouthGive president and junior Jessye Baker-Levine.

The club gears the event around fundraising for these organizations. This year, the club set up eight colorful, informational booths in the middle of the Depot square—one for each of the goals.

“We raised a lot of awareness for the causes we are promoting,” said junior Max Billig, the club’s vice president.

The club also designed a children’s activity.

“Kids of all ages are given a ‘passport’ and go to each booth, where they are given an activity or question, like a ‘visa stamp,’ and when [the ‘passport’ is] complete, they turn it into the front to vote for where a larger chunk of the profits of YouthFest goes,” said Deng.

The club still donates to all of the organizations that they selected, but the children’s votes influence what percentage of the total profits go where.

Their profits came both from the bake sale alongside the booths and the ongoing silent auction, comprised of items donated by local businesses. In addition, they had live music, provided by various Tam students, for the duration of the event.

A lot of preparation was required for an event as ambitious as this one. YouthGive had been planning it for between four and five months.

“It takes the whole club to put an event like this one on because there are so many different pieces,” said Baker-Levine.

Freshman club member Rachael Ferm described it as a “collaborative effort,” saying, “we saw a lot of teachers and students get involved—it was a real community effort.”

“It went very well; it was productive, educational, and fun,” said Billig. “This year, things were more integrated for children, with the activities, and it was more fun for them.”

However, YouthFest was primarily an awareness event, which fits in with YouthGive’s past feats.

“The club has organized a range of education and fundraising events on local and global issues. [In 2010], they held fundraising events in Mill Valley to help address floods in Pakistan and the rebuilding in Haiti,” Jenny Yancey, the other co-founder of YouthGive, told The Mill Valley Herald.

These events embody the club’s primary purpose, which Siegel said, “is to engage young people in thinking about helping their community and the world, from non-profits here in Mill Valley to international non-profits.”


Written by Katharine Hirata.  This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue.