May 25, 2022

Volunteer Leadership Search: Three Pillars Initiative

Are you a seasoned fundraiser, grant maker or philanthropist who is passionate about helping Generation Z become leaders in philanthropy?

Does the opportunity to bring your community a powerful program that prepares high school students for a lifetime appreciation of, and involvement in, philanthropy excite you? The Three Pillars Initiative (TPI) is looking for volunteers to help expand its powerful program of teaching the art, science, and business of philanthropy to the next generation.

Continue reading to hear what former TPI Board Member Risa Davis, TPI graduate/current Board Member Sydney Rayburn, and current TPI Senior Sam Zimberoff have to say about their stunning experiences being a part of TPI.

Expanding Student Perspectives

Risa Davis, a former TPI Board Member, reflects on a memorable experience pre-pandemic when they did a site visit with six TPI students in the Austin community of Chicago. The Executive Director started talking about recent violence in the area and how it affected the students’ lives. Pointing to where a bullet had struck a building, he explained how they had a nice little playground in the back but it was only safe to use at selected times. The students had the chance to meet with kids on-site who faced these difficult challenges firsthand. "Their hearts just opened up to what the kids were going through. Until you walk in someone else's shoes, you have no idea,” Risa said. “When it was time to make the grant decisions, all six TPI students were so passionate about making sure that the organization got funded."

Risa loves working with the TPI students. “They are so interesting and fun. They bring a different perspective, and I enjoy witnessing this avenue opening for them. I've watched them better understand what they're seeing around them and realize that they can make a difference, whether it's through philanthropy or volunteer work."

Sharing Narratives Makes an Impact

In the second year of the program, the students are given the opportunity to put together their own events to raise money — ranging all the way from 5k Runs to soirees. Sydney, a program graduate, shares her experience and lessons learned organizing her first fundraising cocktail party. "I had to set up the venue, guest list, and caterers for the event. It was all in the students' control. This gave me the most important skill to set me up for success in college — communication. Talking to donors teaches you how to interact with people different from you. While it was pretty intimidating, it taught me the importance of telling your story, constructing a narrative, and getting a message across to people who haven't shared your same experience."

Inspiring Future Involvement and Nonprofit Careers

Sydney elaborates on how the tools she learned in the organization have propelled her studies at Brown University. “Being in the program exposed me to philanthropy at a young age, which set the stage for what I wanted to do in school, not just academically, but also outside of school, for example, becoming a volunteer with nonprofits. I think that the knowledge and information from the program helped me develop both contacts and a better understanding of how nonprofits work.”

Forging Supportive Mentor-Student Bonds

Sam, a current TPI student, happily shares his valuable experience and unique relationship with his mentor Joe. "I have a very close relationship with him; our consistent communication comes from the remarkable mentor-peer relationships formed in this program. He's a great guy! I've only known him for a year and a half, and he sends me treats on the holidays, books to read, weekly text updates, articles that he finds interesting — he's really trying to inspire us."

Insights that Shape Lives

"The greatest lesson I learned was in junior year when we were taught to be proactive instead of reactive," explains Sam. "That provided me with insight that I don't think many 17- or 18-year-olds receive. This opportunity to learn to be proactive and take action has been so powerful for me, and it's something that I often reflect on."

Teaching the art, science, and business of philanthropy to the next generation requires a tremendous amount of teamwork. Our foundation for educating students is designed as a continuum for high school juniors and seniors through college and relies on fostering a space that promotes growth and instills values from the teachings of philanthropy.

We are specifically looking for volunteers to work as part of a hands-on leadership team in these communities where a TPI program is launching in fall 2022:

Evanston, IL
North Shore suburbs, IL
Lake County, IL
DuPage County, IL
Racine, WI
Fairfield, CT
Elmhurst, IL

However, we welcome inquiries from any area of the country.

This search is now closed. To view other recruitment opportunities, visit our full Executive Search Positions page.

If you’re excited about working with teens to spark a lifelong interest in philanthropy and would like to learn more about joining a team of volunteers to bring the Three Pillars Initiative into your community, reach out to Amy Funk, Senior Vice President, Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt at

Written by

TWB Fundraising

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