Youth Philanthropy Initiative Emphasizing Positive Leadership for Teens

A program founded by Lynn Schusterman is turning out teenage philanthropists and tomorrow's leaders, working to make a difference for other teens, in the process.

"I love helping people, love to volunteer, so, this is a really great program," said Calah McQuarters, a freshman at Booker T. Washington.

McQuarters is one of 25 teens from around the Tulsa area, becoming a leader in the community, through the Youth Philanthropy Initiative on the campus of OU-Tulsa.

The youth-led program -- started in 2004 -- teaches a diverse group of teens the positive attributes of a leader and a philanthropist. The group is divided into different cohorts, each focusing on a different issue facing teenagers.

"We're looking for leadership potential and that's the main thing," said cohort facilitator, Terrie Shipley.

This year's students are given $30,000 to build a campaign that makes a difference for teens in the community.

"There's really a stigma for teens that volunteering is boring, it's just a requirement and, you know, 'required volunteerism' is such an oxymoron and so, teens really want to encourage each other to find more worthwhile, meaningful volunteer opportunities," Shipley added.

Those volunteer opportunities are initiated by these high school students and geared toward their own peers. The 3-year program graduates juniors and seniors, hoping to continue to make a difference.

"Trying to see different problems that I can help with and maybe expand it beyond Tulsa, to states and the country -- maybe even the world," said McQuarters.

The program receives more applicants than it is able to take and holds a rigorous interview process to select its participants.

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