This blog is part of our “Engaging young people in philanthropy” series, as part of our International Youth Day content. Learn more about Matson and read other articles in the series to hear more about his perspective on transforming philanthropy.

Welcome back to my blog series. In the second blog of this series – ‘The Big Idea’, we introduced a pathway that can lead us to a sustainable transformation of our society. Youth-adult collaboration can create an opportunity for both the young people and the adults to benefit from, and contribute to our society.

In this final blog, we will provide an example of the youth-adult collaboration, how it works, and the great outcomes it provides.

Our journey towards youth-adult collaboration

I am a young person. I am working as a Transformation Coordinator this summer alongside Michelle Baldwin who is the Senior Advisor Transformation at Community Foundations of Canada. Together, we participate in strategic sessions, convene meetings, and contribute to advocacy work and research. 

In all our work, we brainstorm, debrief and learn together. 

I bring new perspectives, she brings wisdom and experience, and together we both bring strengths that further our thinking and ideas about how to transform philanthropy. 

Our collaboration is a win-win approach.

Michelle convened a roundtable with Infrastructure Canada about the National Infrastructure Assessment and I was excited to be given an opportunity to share my perspective. 

Instead of Michelle speaking, she gave the space for me as a young person to be heard. 

I shared that a long-term vision of infrastructure without engaging young people is a short-term vision. Young people will be key to solving our intractable challenges.

I was then able to share that young people have a willingness to experiment and challenge the status quo, and they take innovative ideas into action. 

Community Foundations of Canada and Michelle Baldwin valued the importance of positive youth engagement. This is how it works – giving space for new voices to be heard.

Michelle Baldwin and Matson Kitamisi as they work on transformation work

Seeing philanthropy through an intergenerational lens

In one of my conversations, someone quoted an Indigenous elder who said, “in different age groups – childhood, youth, adulthood, and elderhood, there is a hill in between” and different vantage points depending where you are on the hill. If you are high on the hill, you can see the progress that has been made and if you are lower down, you can see the progress still needed.

For years, those who make decisions in our society have failed to look downhill and engage other age groups in decision-making. 

Adults need to keep climbing uphill and making progress but they also need to reach out to young people on their journey up the hill. 

Transformation can happen with young people’s participation. These groups who have been oppressed and ignored, young people and other historically excluded communities, can promote a healthy democracy.

By introducing the idea of youth-adult collaboration in decision-making, our society can imagine solutions collectively to address the big challenges. We can do this by engaging young people and working across sectors to challenge the status quo. Philanthropy can start making changes now to be more inclusive and equitable. We can activate the masterpiece of young people in our sector – leveraging their skills and ideas. 

We can build a sustainable society for everyone where our identities, ages, and backgrounds are a source of joy and solidarity. Our differences can be a win-win and help create innovative ideas. 

Seeing philanthropy through this intergenerational lens is the key to seeing it differently.

Matson Kitamisi is the Transformation Coordinator at CFC. Working at CFC, has helped him understand both the challenges of our current philanthropy system and the strengths that young people can bring to transformation. He believes in an ecosystem problem-solving approach and intergenerational lens in transforming our society.