Thirty-five young philanthropists convened in Marshalltown recently to learn more about strategic, thoughtful philanthropy from their peers and community foundation professionals from around the state. Groups from Council Bluffs to the Quad Cities participated in learning about best practices in youth philanthropy at the conference titled, “A Year of Youth Philanthropy in a Day”.

Sharing time, talent, and treasure are all part of philanthropy. Teens in youth philanthropy groups around the state are learning the value of being involved in their communities and the impact that charitable giving can have on nonprofit organizations.  At the conference, in addition to learning what other programs are doing, they learned about careers in foundations and the nonprofit sector as well as college programs available to prepare for those careers.

In Marshalltown, STEP (Students Teaching and Empowering Philanthropy) is a group of about 12 high schools students who spend the school year learning about private foundations, community foundations, the needs of nonprofit organizations in Marshalltown, and the nuts and bolts of grant-writing and grant-making. Heidi Pierson, Manager of Grants and Communications at the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation, the facilitator for STEP said, “It is a delight to work with these students and I am very pleased they had an opportunity to meet and work with their peers from around the state.”

Comments from other participants included, “This was a very interesting way of discovering new ways of improving our own philanthropy group”, “It was all awesome/very informative”, “I feel like I learned valuable information and the conference was worth my time.” The conference was sponsored by a grant from the Iowa Council of Foundations (ICoF) and hosted by STEP and the Community Foundation of Marshall County. Kari McCann, President of ICoF, said, “It was a great event connecting youth philanthropists from across Iowa. ICoF knows the power of youth philanthropy in growing Iowa’s next generation of philanthropic and nonprofit leaders. We are proud to sponsor this learning opportunity for these great kids.”

If anyone is interested in knowing more about the STEP program in Marshalltown contact Heidi Pierson at or at 641-752-8340.