Youth philanthropists support local nonprofits

With support from the LincolnWay Community Foundation, local students recently got hands-on experience in community philanthropy and raised $1,500 for local nonprofits.

This spring, the Central DeWitt High School student council organized a youth philanthropy campaign — the first “Leading With Love” event — which engaged students and teachers in fundraising activities over the course of a week. Friendly student competitions, such as a three-point contest, $5 jeans day for staff, and even T-shirt sales run by a student entrepreneur contributed to a successful $500 fund drive. 

Council members researched local nonprofits, and ultimately selected three to support: the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Clinton County, DeWitt Hospital Foundation and DeWitt Nite Lions. On top of the dollars raised during the event, the council itself donated $500, and with the Community Foundation’s $500 match, each organization received $500.

To provide this valuable experience annually, lifelong educator and Foundation board member Pat Henricksen started a new endowment fund with the Foundation, the Henricksen Nonprofit Challenge to Central Dewitt High School,  that will pay out every year to support grants to the nonprofits students select. 

“I always want to teach young people that we learn, we earn, and then we return to the community that we live in for future progress,” says Henricksen. “That’s why I set up this endowment: to help students at Central realize that philanthropy has an important role to play in strengthening rural Clinton County.”

The new fund and the students’ work are examples of the Foundation’s mission in action. 

“The Foundation assists local leaders in accomplishing their charitable goals. Pat’s endowment is permanently invested and will pay out every year, forever, to spark excitement in these young philanthropists and fuel their ideas around supporting local nonprofits,” says Amanda Willimack, executive director. To learn more about how you can make an impact in your community, email her at or call 563-212-2812.