Evan C. Deoul and Michael L. Kohner founded Philanthropy Tank in 2015 with the goal of helping students of Palm Beach County, Fla., positively influence their community and provide them with skills that can influence their career paths. The program allows students in grades 8 to 12 to choose a social issue that is important to them and relevant in their community, and then create and execute a project with the help of Philanthropist-Investors. Philanthropist-Investors contribute $50,000 over two years to fund the student projects and Philanthropy Tank’s operations and mentor the students during the first year of their projects.
Since its start, students involved in Philanthropy Tank have made significant impacts on their community in areas of health and human services, women and girls, community development, education and youth development, the environment, and arts and culture. To date, 33 student projects have been awarded through the program.
Some of the projects backed by Philanthropist-Investors include: Princesses Against Cancer, Horses That Help, Alex’s Free Kicks, STEM Lab and Alive with Music. Proposed projects are judged on several specific criteria including sustainability.
“The greatest factor here is sustainability,” Philanthropy Tank Executive Director Joann Levy said. “These aren’t just one-offs – 68 percent of projects started year one [in Palm Beach County] are still operating today.”
Heading into its fifth year, Philanthropy Tank has come to Baltimore. The city was chosen as the program’s first expansion market. Deoul spent 30 years in Baltimore and understands the need for an organization like Philanthropy Tank in the area, said Levy.
Philanthropy Tank has been holding workshops in Baltimore since the summer of 2019 and is seeing interest from students in the community. Local organizations are also showing support such as Associated Black Charities, which is interested in participating in the program as a key partner.
“They are assisting Philanthropy Tank, as an emerging non-profit, to get the word out about our mission, introduce us to others with like-minded values and provide insight and feedback into how we can do our work successfully,” said Levy.
The Baltimore program officially launches on April 2. Finalists present to Philanthropist-Investors and participate in a live pitch event in the fall. By the end of 2020, the finalists will begin implementing their programs in Baltimore.
The experience will provide students in Baltimore City with leadership skills such as business planning, strategic planning, marketing, finance management, project management, teamwork, community relations and others to prepare them for the workforce.
Individuals and businesses can support the new program in Baltimore by becoming a Philanthropist-Investor, a member of the advisory board or a sponsor. While financial support is necessary, the impact on the students is key, Levy said.
“What’s really important is bringing this opportunity to our students in Baltimore, and believing that they have the best solutions to problems that directly affect their lives.”
Above photo: Students from the Elijah Cummings Youth Program work on their ideas for a project. (Provided)
Story by Zoe Adams