Recognizing Youth Volunteerism in Dane County

Happy National Volunteer Month! Mobilizing volunteers is a crucial aspect of our work – they are the lifeblood of United Way of Dane County. Did you know some of our most dedicated volunteers are not even 18 years old? From 5 year olds planting trees on Global Youth Service Day, to 16 year olds determining investment decisions as part of BYFY (By Youth for Youth), Dane County kids and teens are making a huge impact with their time and talent.

Anna HildebrandBy Youth for Youth is a volunteer committee of 24 Dane County high school students who make investment decisions in youth-led programming. This year’s youth-selected focus areas include racial equality, reduction of the achievement gap, LGBTQ+ support and awareness, gender equality, and much more. Their work addressed the needs of the community through projects developed and implemented by youth to serve youth.

The following sponsors make $37,000 available for investment: •United Way of Dane County Community Engagement CBT

  • Dane County Youth Commission
  • City of Madison, Office of Community Services
  • City of Madison, Madison Peace Project

BYFY member, Anna Hildebrand, Freshman at Edgewood, expands more on what it means to be a United Way volunteer

“BYFY provides me with an opportunity to make a bigger impact in the youth community. It allows me to take on a role of responsibility. The experience has definitely opened my eyes more. I am more aware of my community and what is happening in it. Now there are a lot of things I want to do in the community. Being more aware of the community has made me want to continue as a volunteer.

Being a [United Way] volunteer makes me feel happy and successful. I want to be a leader in the community and this opportunity puts me in [that] place.”

Nelly SantiagoThe Youth Volunteer Corps is a group of young people (ages 13-18) who are passionate about volunteerism and making an impact in their community. The group takes a leadership role in planning, organizing and participating in Global Youth Service Day (GYSD). Now in its 29th year, GYSD is the largest and longest-running youth service event in the world, and the only event dedicated to celebrating the contributions that young people make to their communities year-round – you can sign up here!

Nelly Santiago, Edgewood Senior, explained how much participating in YVC has meant to her:

“YVC provides an opportunity to be more involved in service in order to make a positive impact in the community. The space also provides me with an opportunity to branch out and meet other youth who want to make a difference. I also get the opportunity to learn more about myself and others because we all have a safe space to share ideas and perspective with each other.

This experience has opened my eyes to issues in the community. Because of that I now think proactively about what I can continuously do to make a difference in the community. The experience that I am able to gain working with other youth and the community has really opened my eyes to other perspectives other than my own.

[Volunteering at United Way means] I get the satisfaction that I did something positive. I KNOW I made a difference!”

Anna and Nelly are just two examples of young people who represent the power of many, working for all. We will be honoring youth and many more volunteers at our May 2 Community Volunteer Awards: Celebrating the Heart and Soul of Dane County.

We love our youth volunteers but we encourage everyone to engage with United Way. You can volunteer, attend an event, make a donation, or be an advocate by making sure others see this newsletter and other United Way communications.

United Way is fighting for the education, financial stability and health of everyone in Dane County. Consider how you would like to join the fight.