- 01 March 2013
- by Hasher Nisar
What do you think happens when you give 30 young people $5 million every year to fund service-learning and community service projects?
You might be asking yourself: First of all, who would do that?
Well, State Farm has done it every year since 2006 and the Board has affected an estimated of 14.1 million people! The State Farm Youth Advisory Board (YAB), established in 2006, is the signature philanthropic initiative of the company to address issues important to them and communities across the United States and Canada. Out of the $5 million given to the Board, $1 million is allocated towards State Farm Neighborhood Assist™ every year while $4 million towards service-learning projects.
Recently, the Youth Advisory Board has been busy reviewing applications for State Farm Neighborhood Assist, a program launched last year that gives out $25,000 to 40 deserving causes working to improve neighborhoods in areas of education, community development, and safety. This is a rare opportunity for both the adults and the youth to apply for a grant and fund a project that can have a positive impact in their community. The application period for State Farm Neighborhood Assist opened on February 13th, and ended Friday, March 1st because we received the maximum of 3,000 submissions. 200 of these submissions will be selected as finalists, in the running for $25,000 apiece.
What is the role of the State Farm Youth Advisory Board?
The YAB is responsible for scoring all 3,000 applications. Each application is assigned to 3 Board members, creating an even workload, and ensuring that each application is scored fairly. The Board scores the applications based on four questions:
- How much does this cause focus on an unmet need in the applicant’s community?
- How does the applicant propose to use the $25,000 to address the unmet need?
- How much of a lasting impact will this cause have on the community?
- How will the success of the project be defined and measured?
Each question is scored on a scale of 1 to 7, looking at the details and information that the applicants provide. We also may take time to discuss certain applications with our fellow board members. I have had numerous conversations with my fellow Yabbies regarding the impact a project might have in a community, the proposed use of the $25,000, the sustainability of a project, and so on. These discussions led the other Board members and I to set our own definitions of “exemplary” applications. Once we’ve scored all our submissions, the top 200 highest-scoring are selected as finalists.
How can YOU participate?
The most unique aspect of State Farm Neighborhood Assist is that YOU get to decide the 40 causes that will receive the $25,000. The 200 finalists will be announced through Facebook on April 4 and anyone with the free Facebook application can vote for their top causes with up to 10 votes everyday until April 22. On April 29, the 40 causes with the most votes will be announced on the Facebook app.
The cause that came in first with 67,252 votes last year was Skate for Change, an organization that gives back to the community by helping the homeless and less fortunate. Young people ride around Omaha and Lincoln giving out basic necessities to the homeless and low-income. With $25,000, Skate for Change has been able to grow and expand to other communities in Nebraska.
Last year, State Farm Neighborhood Assist reached 22 states and 40 communities ranging in population from 200 to 8 million. This was all because of the votes you casted. This is an opportunity for you to decide what causes you believe should receive the $25,000 grant and will have the most impact on communities across the United States and Canada.
Will you help us chose the 40 deserving causes?
Vote here on April 22: State Farm Neighborhood Assist
Guest Blogger: Hasher Nisar
State Farm Youth Advisory Board
Associate Member, Eastern Market Area