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Desert Companion

Philanthropy: Giving gang

Once considered the sole province of fusty white captains of industry, philanthropy is trickling down to the people — specifically, young people. In Las Vegas, the United Way of Southern Nevada has the Young Philanthropists Society, aimed at 20- to 40-year-olds who want to make a different kind of investment — in their community.

“For a lot of young people, this group is their first step in giving back to the community,” says Young Philanthropists Society/Major Gifts Director Nicole Mastrangelo. “We specifically chose the word ‘philanthropy’ to be in the name to set it apart from other networking groups aimed at young people. We wanted to reflect that there’s the gift of time, leadership and volunteerism, as well as a financial commitment involved — and while it’s nothing endowment-worthy, it’s a significant amount to the people involved.” (Disclosure: Mastrangelo was formerly an account executive for Nevada Public Radio.)

Members fork over a minimum of $1,500 annually, which largely funds United Way programs. But there are hands-on projects too. In October, they established a mock savings bank at Walter Bracken Elementary School and wove some financial literacy into the curriculum. The kids have raised more than $7,000 so far. Those little investors will be rewarded with a splashy dividend: The goal is to save up for a trip to Sea World. Info:

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