It's not easy being a Millennial. If double digit youth unemployment and $1 Trillion in student loan debt weren't bad enough, we're constantly getting trolled by "think pieces" that, to me, feel very light on thought. That's why when we hear about the amazing work Millennials are doing to improve their communities, we like to make a big deal out of it.
On over 80 campuses around the world, Student United Ways - college clubs led by students to support their communities and United Way - Millennials are organizing amazing projects to engage their peers in service and philanthropy. They're reading to kids after school, serving meals in food banks, and providing access to healthy food for neighbors they've never even met.
Last week, United Way Worldwide recognized nine Student United Way clubs on college campuses across the United States, celebrating their innovative approaches to giving, advocating and volunteering to improve lives and communities. Just check out the list of award winners below and feel the fear you had for our future melt away:
- For raising $25,000 through special events to support Summer of Service internships for youth in their community, the GIVE Promising Practice Award goes to Student United Way of Cornell University.
- For hosting a multi-day poverty simulation in conjunction with the 50 year anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the ADVOCATE Promising Practice Award goes to Student United Way of Rutgers University – New Brunswick.
- For generating over 3,000 service hours through local volunteer activities and a service trip to United Way Alternative Spring Break in Biloxi, Mississippi, the VOLUNTEER Promising Practice Award goes to Student United Way of Palm Beach State College.
- For contributing $1,000 in seed funding for United Way Youth Venture programs in local schools and mentoring high school students to become social entrepreneurs, the EDUCATION Promising Practice Award goes to Student United Way of Ithaca College.
- For providing Thanksgiving dinners to low-income families through a campaign that allowed students to donate money from their campus meal plan, the INCOME Promising Practice Award goes to Student United Way of Towson University
- For informing their fellow students of health care coverage options in the Affordable Care Act through an online campaign and on-the-ground information sessions the HEALTH Promising Practice Award goes to Student United Way of University of California - Riverside
- For her dedication to club members and for securing $6,800 in student activity fees for 2015 Alternative Spring Break, Campus Advisor of the Year goes to Amber Berman of Lincoln Land Community College
- For her leadership, dedication and creativity in bridging the town-gown divide, the Student Leader of the Year goes to Anna Rayis of Anderson University
- For a year of giving, advocating and volunteering that generated 5,000 pounds of non-perishable food, 1,300 children’s books, the Arizona Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, and $70,000 raised through their first student campaign, the Campus Organization of the Year Award goes to Student United Way of Arizona State University
These awards are bigger than a pat on the back. These awards are not the participation trophies you gave us in our youth soccer league. These awards signify the next generation of community leaders is ready to lead now. Not in lieu of the leadership of older generations, but in concert. Working together, our collective outstretched hands are improving lives and community conditions. So make some room at the table for us - we're ready!