Maddie Mundy: Being a Philanthropist is Just Who I Am

School & Grade: Rising 12th Grader at North Central High School

Passionate About the Cause of: Educating Others

Participants in the YoPhI Teen Board have spent the last eight months working in collaboration with the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and its Lake Institute on Faith & Giving towards a Certificate in Youth Philanthropic Leadership. Over the next few weeks, you’ll be able to read responses that YoPhI Teen Board members wrote in response to the question - What Does it Mean to Be a Jewish Teen Philanthropist?

Learn more about the YoPhI Teen Board’s experience by joining their virtual Check Granting Ceremony on at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 2. Full Event Details HERE.

To me being a Jewish teen philanthropist is just who I have always been though the teen part is a bit more recent. Growing up in the Jewish community I was raised to always be kind and give whatever I can. I have grown up around philanthropy and been raised on the concept of tzedakah. The Jewish community is built off of the idea of tzedakah and has given me a strong network of people to help me become a successful philanthropist. At a young age, I participated in mitzvah days and always brought tzedakah on Sunday to religious school. As I got older I began to join Jewish youth groups and charitable groups with my family and friends. Having this preexisting network of charitable organizations in an environment in which I felt safe and comfortable, as well as supportive family and my encouraging teachers, helped to encourage and lead me down this path of philanthropy. Being Jewish has not only encouraged and nurtured my 'love of humanity' but has also given me an avenue through which I can express it. 

Though the teen part of my identity is relatively new to me, it is a significant part. As a teenager, I have a unique perspective and equally unique opportunities. Though I am unable to vote I have found I am still able to make a difference. Through programs like the YoPhI Teen Board I am able to get engaged and see how the process of philanthropy actually works and learn what being a philanthropist is like. I am also in a unique position because of the generation into which I was born. My generation is connected to not only each other but to the world like never before and this connectivity helps me understand and sympathize with other people from all around the world. Many adults think that technology and 24/7 news cycles have made my generation desensitized and unable to properly connect with each other. While there is some truth to this our abundance of technology also helps us in ways that adults often overlook. Because of my 24/7 news cycle, I am more informed about world events than most adults I know. My technology also allows me to not only understand the issues facing people all over the world but to also connect with those individuals directly. With my technology, I am able to reach out to people everywhere and understand their real stories and desires rather than bland statistics. While my generation's overabundance of technology can be a hindrance it can also be an asset, especially if said teen is a philanthropist. 

Though the Jewish and teen identities are clear to me, I don't quite know what the philanthropist part of my title fully means yet. What I do know is that philanthropy means dedicating yourself to others and giving whatever you can. I also know that that is exactly what I want to do with my life, whether it be through the Peace Corps, teaching, or politics. I am on the YoPhI Teen Board so that I can learn how to be a philanthropist so that I can continue this work later on in my life. I know that being a philanthropist means giving to others and helping others first. Being a philanthropist also means sympathizing and understanding others which can be hard at times but is a crucial part of philanthropy. I have been taught not only by my family to put myself in other’s shoes but also by my studies. In history class you are taught to look at things from all different angles so you can fully understand the situation. By applying this technique to my everyday life I am able to better understand others. This is very important to me because to dedicate yourself to giving you must be able to love and understand your fellow human (or animals, or even nature itself). I only hope that I will be able to represent a true Jewish teen philanthropist as I grow older. 

The YoPhI Teen Board is an initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis and is part of the Jewish Teen Funders Network  (JTFN)  Foundation Board Incubator, an initiative funded by Laura Lauder and the Maimonides Fund. For more information please contact David Heilbron, Director of Youth Philanthropy & Connection at


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