A participant’s perspective on participatory grantmaking

Youth participant writes notes on flip chart

Photo: Janessa Miramontes, PGM participant and Program Committee member

Over the past several months, Natrona Collective Health Trust has had the pleasure of working with an engaged and inspiring group of young individuals from the Youth Empowerment Council (YEC) as part of a participatory grantmaking (PGM) process.

Youth participants collaborate at board tablePGM is a philanthropic approach that empowers communities by transferring decision-making authority regarding grant funding from foundation staff to individuals most affected by the issues at hand. In the next few months, the YEC group will be giving the Trust direction on the allocation of funds to address mental health and substance abuse treatment for young people aged 0-21.

Janessa Miramontes is a member of YEC and an active participant in the PGM project. She also serves as a youth community representative on the Trust’s Program Committee. The Trust’s PGM facilitator Ray Pacheco recently spoke with Janessa regarding her experience working on this PGM process with her peers.

“I really appreciate the impact that PGM has had on my life,” Janessa said.  “Through my time in the program, I’ve learned about building relationships and embracing diverse points of view. I’ve also become more aware of our community’s needs and feel more empowered to take action to make a difference.”

Youth participants and facilitator collaborate at flip chartJanessa described the collaborative decision-making process as a positive experience that enabled her and her peers to discuss the pressing issues facing young people in their community. In sum, she attested to the importance of PGM in fostering community engagement, ownership, and empowerment in a truly impactful manner.

The Trust has designated $240,000 of grant money to support the nonprofits identified by the youth through the PGM process. The YEC’s goal is to award these grants in the spring of 2023.