about Krystal Brandt's experience volunteering
with the "United Way John K. Mott Youth Fund
Krystal is helping
distribute grants while learning about organizations
that are serving their community.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did you do?
Krystal: The organization that I participate
in focuses on nonprofit organizations that specifically
target the well-being of the youth in Cuyahoga
County. We distribute money to programs that
help young teens with living conditions, survival,
and education (just to name a few).
What is the name and location of the organization?
Krystal: The name of the organization I participate in is the United Way John K. Mott Youth Fund
Distribution Committee in downtown Cleveland, specifically, in the United Way
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Krystal: This year's project began in the beginning of this school year
with about 35-40 high school juniors and seniors
from throughout Cuyahoga County on the panel.
We had $39,000 to distribute this year, and
the maximum amount allowed to receive/allocate
to an organization was $5,000.
Our first step was to establish focus
areas that we would center our selections on
and therefore be able to narrow down our choices
throughout the project. Our focus areas are
Preventative Education, General Education, Family
Preservation, Basic Needs, Community, and Counseling/Mentoring.
Based on these six target areas, we as the committee
were able to then go through the 80 or so proposals
and figure out which of these organizations
fit the target areas, regardless of the amount
of money they were asking us for.
After the initial narrowing down of proposals,
the next step was to invite those organizations
left to come in for interviews. These interviews
were a chance for these organizations to come
alive, to become more than just a piece of paper.
The interviewees had the opportunity to explain
their projects and programs so that we, as the
panel, could obtain a better, fuller understanding
of what exactly each organization has to offer
and whether they are organized enough to put
our money to good use.
Following the interview meetings was the deliberation
meeting. At this meeting we again narrowed our
selections down based on their interviews and
what we thought and got from them. After we
had our final selections, which numbered about
17 organizations (from 80+), we decided which
programs would receive full funding or less.
Some examples of the organizations we funded
are the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center ($1,250),
Cleveland Signstage Theater ($2,000), Harvard
Community Services Center ($4,000), and The
Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland ($5,000).
What inspired you to get involved?
Krystal: My inspiration to get involved
was my love for working "behind the scenes"
on projects that take a lot of organization
and time to do. I was also looking for something
to help out in my community, but on a larger
scale, rather than something small like soup
kitchens or nursing homes. I finally found an
area in which I have that "behind the scenes"
participation, and yet I'm helping in a totally
How did you first get involved?
Krystal: I found out about this program through my high school counselor.
Also, an upperclassman friend of mine had participated
in this program the year before I joined and
said it was an excellent opportunity and she
loved it herself.
What was the best thing about your experience?
Krystal: The best part about my experience on the YFDC for the last
two years has absolutely been finding out and
learning about the numerous organizations that
my community offers to its residents. Itís amazing
how many people are so willing with their time
and resources to better our community and the
youth that live in the area. And not to mention,
when are you in charge of $50,000-$60,000 at
What was the hardest part?
Krystal: My anticipation for this whole
process was that the hardest part would be getting
along with so many diverse kids my age and coming
to one unanimous or compromised decision .I
came to find out later that this would never
even become an issue for any of us. The absolute
hardest part of being in charge of $50,000 is
realizing the fact that yes, that is a whole
lot of money, but itís not nearly enough to
go around. It's heartbreaking to me to see so
many organizations around the area that are
absolutely desperate for money in order to function.
Having to turn down these willing, loving, selfless
people is even harder. This is the greatest,
yet toughest, realization that I have come across
while on this committee.
What was the biggest surprise?
Krystal: The biggest surprise for me
was more on the smaller scale versus the whole
big picture. What surprised me the most was
that there were so many young people in Cleveland
and its surroundings areas that are so willing
to be a part of a committee like this to help
other young people who are not as fortunate.
Itís a wonderful gift for me to know that there
are high school kids like me so willing to better
the community that we all share and live in.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Krystal: I have learned of many organizations
that are out there for myself or friends to
utilize in times of need. I am now richer because
of the knowledge I have because I may be of
use or help to someone that may need it. That's
a great feeling that I can be help to someone
on a much smaller scale than handing out money
to organizations. I have learned of the need
for these organizations in my area. I've always
known that teen clinics are around and soup
kitchens are there and after school programs
are there too. But for me, I have been fortunate
in my life that I have never had to utilize
a teen clinic or a homeless shelter or and after
school programs. So because of this fact, I
have never really been around anyone who has
had to utilize such places. I have learned that
there are MANY young girls and boys who would
have nothing if they had no clinic to go get
tested for pregnancy or STDs, or a shelter to
sleep in, or a soup kitchen to get a long awaited
meal, or somewhere to stay after school when
their parents are at work. These programs and
organizations have become a reality to me during
the duration of this United Way program. This
therefore has helped me to stay open-minded
to the individuals and volunteers who utilize
and run these fantastic and resourceful organizations
who benefit people every day.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Krystal: It's not boring like it sounds!!
Philanthropy is just the technical term for
helping out people around you. You will meet
so many genuine people who are there not to
obtain something for themselves, but to help
others and to benefit THEIR lives, rather than
their own. There are so many organizations out
there that are just barely making it because
there's barely anyone to help out and run the
programs. Volunteers are always welcome anywhere
and very much appreciated. You have nothing,
absolutely nothing to lose when you are out
to help someone else. You can only learn and
become a better person. Good Luck!
© Foundation Center
All Rights Reserved.