A salute to our Young Leaders
Defying the millenial misconception

Square One Project Stephanie McLemore Bray

A recent study of Millennials by Campbell Rinker, a market research firm, told us what we at United Way have known for some time: that those born from 1982 to 2000, are more engaged in philanthropy than anyone believed. Furthermore, Millennials tend to become more generous as they grow older, and they believe “nonprofit organizations meet many of the needs that government cannot.” In fact, they have a strong belief that nonprofit organizations are better at helping those most in need than government, and “expressed a higher confidence in nonprofits” than Gen Xers (1965-1981), Baby Boomers, (1946-1964), or Matures (1945 or earlier).

Our United Way’s Young Leaders Society (YLS), through their generosity, are the next generation of philanthropists. Despite the negative association that many people have with Millennials, who themselves shun the term, YLS members are leaders in their companies and businesses who care about the future of our region. They believe that everyone should have the opportunity to realize their potential. They believe that they have a responsibility to give back, but they want to do more than just give money. They want to see the impact of their giving in real time.  Through YLS, they are changing the face of philanthropy in big ways. Since 2015, YLS has raised over $100,000 in support of the Square One Project. Those funds helped provide hydration stations in each of the five schools in the Robla School District, our first Square One Partner, to encourage students to drink more water and less sugary drinks. Those funds will also be used to provide every kindergartener who entered Robla School District this past fall with an education savings account. This matched savings program, known as K2C, will enable parents to help save for their children’s education beyond high school. More importantly, the program starts a conversation about the future, setting high expectations for students. Studies show that by investing just a small amount in an education savings account, students are seven times more likely to complete some level of education beyond high school.

Students will have the opportunity to earn matching funds by achieving all of the educational milestones along the way, including staying on track through grade-level reading, attending school every day, and making the successful transition to middle school. Parents will earn matching funds for every dollar they contribute and through their engagement in the educational success of their children.

Through volunteerism, YLS is helping to educate parents about the power of saving for their children’s futures, another way that parents can earn K2C matching funds. YLS members are also helping with hands-on projects on each of the five Robla campuses throughout the school year. Whether it’s building a school garden, or painting classrooms or playgrounds, or helping to distribute water bottles to the students, YLS members give generously of their time to support the Square One Project. Through special events like the upcoming Brews & Brains Trivia Night, YLS members have fun raising money and increasing awareness about the Square One Project.

Please join me in saluting our Young Leaders Society!