By Eva Kuruvilla
My name is Eva Kuruvilla, and I’m a freshman at Northeastern University.
I first participated in the Hopkinton Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program in 2017. Unlike other volunteer opportunities, YIP put the power of decision-making in my hands and empowered me to be a change maker. My group evaluated real grant proposals from different nonprofits in our area, visited these organizations to see them with our own eyes, and awarded two (2) $5,000 grants.
I was so inspired by my experience that I became one of the original members of the YIP Junior Board, a nonprofit board composed entirely of motivated and passionate youth who are looking to spread YIP’s impact to kids in the MetroWest region. I even served as an Instructor’s Assistant to stay connected to the program.
But I wanted to do more. I was particularly moved by the work of the Community Harvest Project, a nonprofit to which my YIP class had given a grant. They focus on providing healthy and nutritious food to our local communities. From them, I learned for the first time what food security was: the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. I quickly became very passionate about issues surrounding food insecurity. YIP helped me determine how I wanted to curate my legacy for giving back.
In the spring of 2018, I stumbled upon an opportunity called the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute (GYI). I competed with thousands of others to be selected for this week-long conference for high schoolers from around the world, writing a 5-6 page research paper on causes and solutions for food security. I was thrilled to be picked as one of the 180 participants and the sole representative of Massachusetts. At the conference, I learned about food security and policy and engaged with researchers, students, and global leaders, including Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro, the two 2018 winners of the World Food Prize, or “the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.”
That week I was immersed in the topic of world hunger. I had the honor of presenting my research on India to Dr. Haddad, met incredibly diverse and passionate new friends, discussed nutrition with US Politicians, listened to passionate speeches by world leaders…I even got a summer job offer to work on the project of a Minnesotan scientist who sat down next to me during dinner one day.
It was an experience of a lifetime, and yet, I wondered why I was the only student selected from Massachusetts. And then I realized – we don’t talk about issues like food insecurity in places like the MetroWest region, where many people are fortunate enough to not worry about where they are getting their next meal. The only reason I discovered a passion for tackling hunger, the only reason I had enough experience to be selected for GYI, is because YIP opened my eyes to the very real need that’s so often hidden in our area.
I like to think that I am a testament to the broad impact that YIP can have in fostering a passion for philanthropy in a child, and I know YIP has been especially impactful on students by exposing us to the very real, but often hidden need in our community. I truly hope this program can reach as many students as possible, preparing them to be leaders and philanthropists not only while they are in high school, but once they go off to college and into the real world as well. And with your support, the possibilities are endless.