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Sow Good Now: A Unique Model of Philanthropic Development

Thursday, June 08, 2023 3:03 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

Written By: Mary Fischer Nassib, President and Co-Founder of Sow Good Now

Sow Good Now (SGN) is an innovative youth philanthropy organization that masterfully integrates activity-based philanthropic education and active volunteerism into the well-organized, diverse, and expansive network of youth athletics. Over 45 million youths in the United States participate in organized sporting activity annually. SGN meets our young people where they are: gyms, pools, fields, rinks, and links and puts forth a new model of philanthropy that is both inclusive and engaging. 

Traditional philanthropy is often siloed and practiced in a grantor to grantee process. Yet, SGN GiveBack programs embrace diversity and challenge communities to collaborate in sharing their unique gifts. SGN leadership guides youth and their mentors through participatory grantmaking exercises where participants are both givers and receivers. During this process, youth, communities, and philanthropy are transformed.

Examples of SGN’s network of activities and philanthropical experiences are numerous as the mission is actualized among the participants and athlete mentors. Within the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area, SGN created a network between the Philadelphia Baseball Training Academy (PBTA) and Sunrise of Philadelphia for events focusing on the importance of introducing philanthropy at a young age. To facilitate participation, transportation and food were also provided. Arriving from an underserved area, the elementary school participants were exposed to basic baseball skills and community-centric grantmaking.

The high school mentors opened their community and shared their time, talent, and treasure with a group of students that may not have had the opportunity to see a high-level training facility and learn how to play baseball. Fifty (50) elementary school age students were provided dry training and fundamental baseball skills over a five-hour training period with the purpose of giving them confidence and encouraging them to “yes” to the programs offered in their geographic area. 

During the Giveback, there were 350 athletic items distributed by SGN volunteers to the eager participants including gloves, baseballs, hats, sunglasses, and backpacks.  According to the Director of Sunrise, “the kids did not want to take their gloves off and sat with them at their desks for days after the event.” Multiple positive outcomes were actualized including:  100% of the children served were from an underserved area that has a median household income in 2020 of $30,495* with roughly one third of the population living in poverty.  Further, 100% of middle and high school baseball players expressed feeling good about sharing their skills to help children in need and would do it again if asked. 

The middle- and high- school age baseball players provided hands on 1:1 ratio coaching and mentoring. This peer instruction from the mentors was highly effective as they built trust and shared skills.  During the camp they had access to state-of-the-art training facilities including batting cages and two full-size baseball diamonds.

A short video at https://youtu.be/SOEvz5711OQ capturing perspectives from coaches and mentors spreads awareness of SGN’s mission.  The success of this initiative will see another GiveBack offered in 2023. To prepare for future programs, PBTA players and coaches visited the schools that Sunrise services to get to know them and their community better and plan for ways to best collaborate in the future.

Another example of SGN’s outreach includes the Jefferson University Softball Team who was matched up with Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy (UYA) for direct and caring service. The video https://youtu.be/qOfRi9sS27 depicts the activities of the day as mentors and youth participants intersect to teach and learn skills, relationship building, and youth philanthropy education. Members from the SGN Team guided the coaches and college players through the steps to engage with UYA girls in relationship building and conversations around college life, athletics at the next level, and challenges faced by young women today. Additionally, SGN collaborated with the B&A Foundation and used this opportunity to bring good nutritional choices education into the folds of the conversation.  As food insecurity plagues high school and college students in the Philadelphia area, the Farm Fresh Market provided healthy foods for the participants to take home.  Again, numerous athletic items and transportation were provided as Team Jefferson raised $1,000 for mental health awareness which was an expressed concern for the softball team and UYA. The softball GiveBack provided an engaging platform, and the college athletes mentored the UYA players not only in softball but in seeking ways to find help when they face dark days. The 1:1 skill training facilitated bonding that will continue again next year in another GiveBack.  

While it is hard to believe that there are some children in our area who may never experience owning their own baseball glove or have a caring person engage them in a catch, this is only one symptom of the gap in resources in our society. The SGN GiveBack model moves our youth from beneficiaries to active agents and takes the first step in system change. 

In 2022, athlete volunteers from the Philadelphia five-county areas raised over $14,000, selected causes that were important to them, and issued grants.  Such causes chosen by the athletes include but are not limited to pediatric cancer, mobile showers for the homeless, suicide prevention, youth and family empowerment in high need areas, boys and girls club teen room remodel, and mental health awareness.  These youth-led grant-making opportunities are critical in the training of a sustainable cycle of philanthropy. Looking ahead, SGN remains committed to its mission to serve and teach youth philanthropy. After all, the focus is not about merely donating money or grants when there is extra; it is about learning how to participate in making the world a better place through our youth. Until there is a level playing field for every child, SGN will continue its work to create a network of support linking community resources, athletes, and underserved communities by offering an alternative to top-down philanthropy by elevating resources in communities from the ground up.

P.O. Box 579
Moorestown, NJ 08057-0579

Phone: (267) 597-3817
Fax: (856) 727-9504
E-mail: info@pgcgp.org

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