Op-Ed: New Canaan’s ‘Young Philanthropists’

As a sophomore at New Canaan High School two years ago, leading a busy life with sports, school and extracurricular activities, I had been less than inclined to add another program to my list of to-do’s. Yet my mom, having volunteered with the New Canaan Community Foundation, insisted I try the organization’s Young Philanthropists Program. In it, high school students meet regularly to learn and discuss community needs and how they’re met by nonprofits, as well as how grants help fund those agencies. No surprise, mom was right—this was a program for me: I love to help others and make a difference in my community, and the Young Philanthropists allows me to not only follow that passion, but to also learn about how a nonprofit is built and sustained. Since entering the program, I have learned a lot about nonprofit organizations in the area, and we have been able to participate in hands-on work with various organizations.

Did You Hear … ?

Congratulations to the Pauley family on the birth of baby girl Peyton Ann Elaine Joyner. The daughter of Michael Joyner and Lauren Pauley—and granddaughter of recently retired New Canaan Tree Warden Bruce Pauley and his wife, Elaine—Peyton was born at 10:04 p.m. on July 14 at Norwalk Hospital. Lauren Pauley is a 2000 Trinity Catholic High School graduate. The Joyner family resides in Stamford. ***

New Canaan High School 2015 graduate and football standout Zach Allen will wear No.

Young Philanthropists: Lessons in Nonprofits, New Canaan and Humanity

Town resident Nicholas Smith, 17, had spent much of his downtime as a King Low Heywood Thomas freshman hanging out at New Canaan Library, playing tennis at the New Canaan Racquet Club or relaxing with friends. That year, at his mother’s prompting (“My mom was always looking for ways to get me out of the house”), Smith applied to join the New Canaan Community Foundation’s Young Philanthropists. Though he’d volunteered as a server in soup kitchens with his family, and even spent two weeks working at a construction site in Appalachia, Smith said no prior experience had prepared him for his first meeting in the program, which gives participating teens a unique look into the nonprofit world by putting them fully in charge of grant allocations for area human services organizations. “I saw basically that it wasn’t grownups leading it—it was purely a teen-led thing, the teens were the actual leaders,” Smith said from a table at Starbucks overlooking Park and Elm Streets on a recent evening, describing what hooked him into a program that has become an important part of his life. “Grownups tell us where to meet and organize meetings, but we were making the actual decisions about who gets what.

Letter: Invaluable Lessons from New Canaan Community Foundation’s Young Philanthropists Program


As we start another school year, we know that young people learn valuable lessons outside the classroom as well. As parents, we try and enrich their lives with diverse educational opportunities. I believe strongly that one of the most important things we can do is to encourage our children to think about other people and about our community. I have been fortunate to volunteer with the Young Philanthropists program coordinated by the New Canaan Community Foundation. I’ve seen firsthand how the students who participate in this group mature and grow in their perspectives as they learn about the needs of our community’s residents and the nonprofit organizations and services that address those needs.