Hello everyone. As you may or may not know, E3 is a youth program sponsored by LACF. We are a group of about 25 high schoolers, and each year, we receive a $10,000 grant from the Foundation to give to local nonprofits.
Throughout the year, we evaluate grants from various organizations and decide if and how much money they will receive. We also plan service projects and volunteer. It’s absolutely incredible that this type of experience is available to us as teenagers. The responsibility of distributing such a large amount of money has made me realize the value and impact of giving money away. We don’t have to wait to be adults to be philanthropists or to give away money or drive social change; we have that opportunity right here.
I entered E3 as a ninth-grader who didn’t know all that much about our community and the very real, very large problems that exist within it. But through my time at E3, I learned about my community and its issues, but more importantly, the motivated, dedicated people who were working toward solving those problems. I’ve had the privilege to learn from people working on the issues of hunger, poverty, the environment, literacy, mental health… the list goes on and on. E3 opened my eyes to a world of not just problems, but also solutions.
I remember we funded the Mountain View Police Officers’ Association for their Cops and Gobblers event, where the community comes together to package baskets of food and toys for families who can’t provide a Thanksgiving meal to their family. I was at first shocked to hear about how big an issue hunger is in my hometown, but also so in awe of the police officers who took it upon themselves to start this event.
E3 not only shows us how people can improve their communities, but also encourages us to do the same. Each year, we split up into groups and plan service projects. My group decided to organize a beautification day at Castro Elementary School in Mountain View. The whole process included delegating roles, working with school administration, scoping out the campus beforehand, collecting supplies and finally leading the event itself. It was one of my best experiences in all of high school. I learned how to organize an event like that, but more importantly, I learned how fun it can be when you really care about what you’re doing. I really cared about cleaning up Castro and planting in the garden and just making it a better place for students to learn and grow, and that’s why I enjoyed organizing the event.
And that’s what I’ve taken away from E3. After years of talking to nonprofit founders and volunteering at various events, it’s obvious that the people in charge truly care about what they’re doing, and that’s what affects change. E3 has taught me that I can and should devote my energy to working towards causes that I care about, because I really can make a difference. I am so thankful to the Foundation for this experience, and I am just happy to know that the program will continue to influence other students like me in the future.