What makes a nonprofit worthy of support? Millburn High students do their due diligence in appraising the Foodshed Alliance. Pictured from left are Main Street Philanthropy Ambassador Yale Levey, Matthew Phi, Eric Wang, Isabelle Wang and Jack Mansfield.

Top photo, from left: Christine Parauda, Allison Liu, Jenny Wang, Eric Wang, Jack Mansfield, Matthew Phi, Isabelle Wang, Lisa Kelly, and Yale Levey.



Can charity be taught? Thanks to a program from Main Street Philanthropy, it appears it can.

Millburn High School in New Jersey recently offered this extra-curricular course. About 15 students studied the ins and outs of philanthropy: what it is, why it’s important, and how it can make a difference in our communities.

The crux of their program is this: the young people decide what cause or issue they would like to focus on and then research local nonprofits working on those problems. Most importantly, they learn to critically discern what makes a charity effective and what makes it worthy of their donations and fundraising efforts.

A few of the Millburn High kids were interested in issues surrounding sustainable farming in urban areas and, in particular, providing farm-fresh food to food-insecure children and their families. This group, which called itself The Hunger Project, researched the Foodshed Alliance.

Due diligence is what Main Street Philanthropy is all about. These kids learned not only what a nonprofit is and how it differs from a regular business, but they learned how to delve into the nitty gritty behind what makes a good nonprofit. Not only did they do extensive research online, but they interviewed the nonprofit’s staff, asking hard questions like, “How do you know you are being effective?” They learned how to read and dissect the nonprofit’s 990 tax returns to understand not only how they raise money but how they spend it.

Bottom line, the program provided these kids with a working knowledge of how to be effective and responsible donors to charities they choose to support. 

At the end of the semester, The Hunger Project presented the Foodshed Alliance with a check for $1,000 raised from bake sales and direct appeals to families and friends. But they weren’t done yet.

Using what they learned from their Main Street Philanthropy experience, The Hunger Project challenged the Foodshed Alliance to find supporters to each match the students’ $1,000 donation, leveraging their efforts into truly impactful results.

Can charity be taught? You bet it can. Won’t you meet The Hunger Project’s challenge and MAKE THE MATCH!