Igniting a Fire in Young Philanthropists

Henri Goettel has spent a lifetime educating youth about philanthropy, and Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) has been a vessel for her passion.

Since 1998, Henri has shepherded the Truman Heartland’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC), inspiring generations of Eastern Jackson County youth to become young philanthropists.

Henri helped launch YAC in 1998, after the then THCF board president Barbara Potts contacted her about obtaining a teen perspective on youth-serving grant applications the Foundation was receiving. YAC began with just 12 students; today there are 190 students representing 13 high schools in Eastern Jackson County. What's more, YAC now has its own endowed fund, launched in 2001, and has raised $60,000 to be used for youth-serving community grants.

"For me, it is such a rewarding experience to see students grow into their philanthropic shoes," said Henri.

Henri and David Goettel were introduced to THCF in 1996, when Henri was one of 10 Missouri educators to be honored with a significant national education award that included a financial gift. Instead of spending it, Henri and David opened a donor advised fund. In addition, the Goettels are also Heartland Legacy Society founding members.

Henri has volunteered countless hours to YAC over the years. The reward: watching the tremendous growth and maturity in the students who participate.

"They learn how to allocate their time and energy, as well as how to work with other students who are different from them," said Henri. "They learn about the community and why it's important for them to get involved."

"YAC brings kids together who wouldn't otherwise socialize," added David. "It creates friends across school boundaries.”

Most important is the legacy of YAC. Henri emphasized: "It lights the students’ fire to become the next generation of philanthropists."

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