Paola Genovese, mother of two Ecolint students (Years 13 and 11), has a very clear vision of philanthropy. More specifically, she believes that anyone can be a philanthropist, even our children. Paola believes that children should be exposed at an early age to the concepts of giving to those less fortunate, not out of a place of guilt, but out of a desire to be an actor in changing the world.
In 2006, Paola founded Philanthropic Adventures, an NGO through which she organises workshops and hands-on programmes to introduce children from ages 10 and up to the world of philanthropy. Paola was motivated by the following conviction: “We need to give a voice to our kids. They have a level of maturity that each time amazes me. They can really be part of the solutions that are available out there.”
The two main programmes of Philanthropic Adventures are "Philan-what?" and "Step into the Shoes," which Paola runs in partnership with schools and nonprofits. The former is aimed at a younger audience (ages 10 to 14) who want to learn how to contribute to a cause they care about. “We cover the basics: what is philanthropy, what do you need to be a philanthropist and how to come up with a plan. We cover exactly the same questions adults might ask themselves, but at the level of the child,” explains Paola.
Step into the Shoes goes a step further. It is a programme for secondary school students who would like to gain experience in philanthropy. When Paola and her family arrived in Geneva, she enroled her two children at Ecolint and began collaborating with the CAS coordinator to offer CAS project opportunities through Philanthropic Adventures.
Nearly five years into her partnership with Ecolint, Paola and the Ecolint students have made formidable contributions to nonprofits such as B8 of Hope (founded by fellow Ecolint parents Mehra and David Rimer), Civitas Maxima, Voices of the Children and A Space Between (founded by Ecolint alumnae Emily Halban and Tianna Moquette Dagher)
Alongside the activities that the students do on behalf of the organisation - from creating a therapeutic colouring book for a paediatrics ward to leading a mock war crimes trial to evaluating and raising funds for peace organisations in the Middle East - Paola tries to provide the students with inspiring examples, concrete philanthropic tools and opportunities to make connections.
The concept is a win-win approach for the students who gain a better understanding of the work of these NGOs and for the organisers who appreciate that the students become ambassadors for their cause. “I always remind the students: it’s already a philanthropic action to go and share about an organisation and an issue you care about,” says Paola.
We cannot wait to hear about the good work being done by the students this semester!
To follow along with Paola’s philanthropic adventures, head to her Instagram page.