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Young philanthropist joins grantmaking committee

Abby DiSalvo
Abby DiSalvo | Photo by Dale Dong

Philanthropy runs in the family for Abby DiSalvo, the youngest member of the Millennium Fund's grant committee. From a young age, her grandparents made a point to involve the whole family in discussions about helping others through philanthropy. She credits both of her grandparents for being her philanthropic role models, but her grandmother played an especially important role in Abby's development as a young philanthropist.

When she was just 10 years old, Abby was inspired to share the lessons her family had taught her about giving with other children. This led her to self-publish a book with the help of her grandmother.

"I wrote this book about (philanthropy) for other kids, to help them learn about it too," Abby explained. "It's a story about this little boy, Max, and his piggy bank. His piggy bank teaches him that you have to spend some money, save some money, but also give some money. He learns that you can also give your time – there's lots of ways to participate in philanthropy."

Abby, now a senior at Revere High School, still advocates for young people to give back to their community in any way possible. 'Young people can volunteer their time. In many ways, that's easier to do because we don't necessarily have the money to donate. So volunteering, getting out in the community and helping different organizations – not just the big ones – is a good way to get started," she said.

Recently, Abby wanted to do more to get involved. Her grandmother, a donor-advised fundholder at Akron Community Foundation, suggested Abby reach out to the community foundation about joining the Millennium Fund's grant committee. In November 2022, Abby participated in her first grantmaking meeting for the fund. "I had a great experience this year, so I would be really happy to continue being a part of it in the future," Abby said.

One grant recipient that hit close to home for Abby was the Autism Society of Greater Akron, which requested funding to provide water safety lessons for children and adults with autism. "I've never seen a program like that during the grantmaking process," she said. "I'm a lifeguard; I teach swim lessons – so it was something I could really relate to."

Abby plans to attend college after she graduates from high school in the spring. While she hasn't made a final decision on where she will go, she knows she wants to continue to give back. She shared her plans to join a student philanthropy council at whatever institution she attends.

In the meantime, Abby continues to encourage other people her age to get involved. Her advice to other students should ring true to philanthropists of all ages: "Anything you can do to help – big or small – is going to make a difference."

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