More Than Money
Issue #14
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Young and Wealthy

Table of Contents

“The Two Million Dollar Question”

I went around and interviewed folks I know through working with Youth on Board (where our work is helping young people get on nonprofit boards and develop as leaders). I looked for people who don't have much money, under age 25, with a variety of outlooks on life. It was fun to call them up and ask, "What would you do with two million dollars, no strings attached?!" I expected them to say: "Get a big house, a big car," and that would be it. But they didn't forget their families and friends, and they also wanted to give a lot to nonprofits, especially ones they were involved with. These people rarely give themselves space to dream. So it was awesome to call them up and have them dream out loud about having money. When people have a chance to use their imaginations, they have more energy to go after their dreams. One of the guys I talked to later said, "You know, I got to thinking that I really want to make that nonprofit I was fantasizing about happen! I've started to do some grantwriting to get funding for it."

Here are samplings of the responses to"What would you do if you suddenly had two million dollars?"

Megan, 14, on the board of directors of Girls Incorporated: "I'd pay off my parents' mortgage, and send money to my grandmother for all her medical bills. I'd set up college trust funds for all my siblings. I'd take a trip with my mom to Africa and with my dad to Europe. I'd donate to Girls Incorporated, of course, and the two churches that I belong to."

Don, 17, works with Hampshire Youth 2000: "I'd put half of the money in the bank. I'd invest the rest in a small business so I could continue to make enough money so I'll never have to work again. I'd also put some away for friends who might need financial help."

J., 23, staff of Do It Yourself, a youth run program that puts together music concerts and festivals: "I'd take my closest friends on a road trip across the United States. Then I'd donate the rest to organizations doing AIDS research and treatment, because AIDS is a disease that can annihilate large numbers of people almost before we have blinked."

Mark, 24, with the Massachusetts Youth Service Alliance : "I would take a ten year trip around the world, as expensive and lush as one can imagine. When I came home I'd start my own activist summer academy that would mobilize youth to take over the world."

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