The Youth Engagement Fund (YEF) aims to increase our funding partners to ensure the youth civic engagement sector is adequately resourced. To this end, YEF aims to 1) increase funding support to strengthen and expand the ecosystem of youth-led organizations advancing civic engagement efforts via state and national youth collaborations, focusing on organizations in the South and Southwest, and 2) support state-based issue-based advocacy that fosters conditions for governing power led by and for young people, centering Black, Indigenours, and youth of color, and their communities. YEF has been investing in building a culture of full civic participation among voting-age young people since 2007 to ensure that their perspectives, issues, and solutions are part of democratic governance. Between 2007 and 2019, YEF provided more than $20 million to youth engagement organizations.
Led by young women of color former organizers under the age of 35, YEF is the only donor collaborative focused on deepening and expanding youth civic engagement led by and for young people of color. Young people are transforming our democracy as highly motivated and engaged civic participants. They also facilitate engagement of their familial, community, and social networks. In 2019, 85% of YEF’s grantee cohort was led by Executive Directors of color and 50% of those were women of color. We are uniquely positioned to catalyze and facilitate greater philanthropic investment in building political participation and civic activism among young people of color to accelerate progressive social change. YEF provides a leadership role in the philanthropic universe that ensures the voices of youth-focused organizations are heard and are advancing leading civic engagement efforts, especially Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) and historically disenfranchised communities working towards activating their youth peers and communities into civic participation. YEF works with state-based organizations, state tables, foundations, organizational and donor partners, and highlights the importance of emerging youth leaders of color in a continuously shifting political landscape. YEF provides monetary grants, serves as a connector and convener, engages in capacity building and technical assistance to ensure youth-led groups are equipped with the tools, relationships, and structures for success.
In 2018, the YEF leadership –composed of staff and the donor committee –completed a 5-year strategic plan to guide the new phase of the fund from 2019 through 2023. The guiding principles of this plan call for a philanthropic leadership model that: 1) demonstrates commitment to racial equity; 2) supports the advancement and power building of Black, Indigenous, and youth of color and their communities; 3) adds value to building local infrastructure in the geographic areas in the South with concentrations of BIPOC youth; and 4) expands resources for BIPOC youth led efforts that create vehicles for youth and communities of color to become life-long civic participants. YEF aims to work with and support partners that are moving forward strategic efforts to build a multi-racial democracy led by and for BIPOC youth and communities of color.
YEF unites institutional and individual donors working across issues, and in varied regions to enable collaborative grant-making towards the common goals of a more reflective and inclusive democracy. YEF invests in state-based youth-focused social justice organizations that engage youth of color and marginalized young people in civic engagement, including non-partisan voter engagement and issue-based campaigns. We envision young people from all life circumstances recognizing the power of their civic engagement and leading the transformation of American democracy and society.
NEO Philanthropy is a national leader in innovative philanthropic solutions. NEO Philanthropy leads large-scale collaborative grantmaking funds on a range of social justice issues; provides fiscal sponsorship and management to projects and campaigns; and develops organization and field-focused capacity building initiatives. Serving as both host and fiscal sponsor for the Youth Engagement Fund, NEO Philanthropy provides day-to-day management, fiscal and legal oversight, budget planning, fundraising, and administrative support to ensure peak operational efficiency.
Our Guiding Circle are the members who make up the YEF donor collaborative. The YEF Guiding Circle provides thought leadership and financial sustainability that advance our goals.
Guiding Circle members are wise and trusted thinkers on civic engagement, movement-building, labor organizing, development and philanthropy, organizational development, and building organizations and leadership of youth and historically disenfranchised communities.