#WhyWednesday: Andrew Maiorino

Today, hear from Cambridge High School student and Youth United board member Andrew Maiorino! What’s Andrew’s “why”? He says, “My passion is literacy, because literacy opens doors.”

Hear more about why Andrew chooses to give back to his community as a Youth United board member:

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Youth United is a place for the next generation of community leaders to share ideas, take action and make an impact. Open to high school students, Youth United is student-led and focused on service. Click here to learn more about joining Youth United or submit a board application!

#WhyWednesday: Khushi Magiawala

Khushi Magiawala is passionate about improving education and mental health in Greater Atlanta. Today, hear this Alpharetta High School senior & Youth United board member share why she lives united!

What are the issues you care about? Whether it’s education, health, financial stability, or homelessness, United Way of Greater Atlanta has a way to plug in and make a difference. Click here to learn more about what we do to improve community well-being across Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties.

#WhyWednesday: Robyn Roberts

“All of us use the village to raise our children.”

Hear Robyn Roberts, champion for children and our community, share why she’s working to improve child well-being as a member of Tocqueville Women United.

Tocqueville Women United is made up of committed business and civic leaders who take action to improve the lives of children in Greater Atlanta. They join together with our Cole Women United to serve our community and further the child well-being movement in our region. To learn more about joining Tocqueville Women United, click here.

#WhyWednesday: Sanaa Edole

Sanaa Edole wants to change the world, starting with her community. Today, hear why she serves Greater Atlanta as a board member with Youth United!

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Youth United group gives high school students the opportunity to build leadership skills and take action to change their community. Youth United board members deep dive into community issues, determining how they can best make an impact. Click here to learn more about YU board membership!

#WhyWednesday: JT Williams

What’s your “why” – the reason you give, advocate and volunteer in Greater Atlanta? Everyone has a story to share. Today, Youth United board member JT Williams shows us that your why doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to create an equal playing field for every member of your community.

Ready to dig in and do your part to help Greater Atlanta? Whether you want to volunteer, learn about our giving opportunities, join a group or step up as a nonprofit board leader, United Way of Greater Atlanta can help you fulfill your philanthropic purpose.

#WhyWednesday: David Hsi

David Hsi, Johns Creek High School junior and Youth United board member, is taking action for the greater good. Today, hear why he’s taking his community involvement to the next level with Youth United.

Interested in learning more about Youth United? A student-led service group, Youth United develops the next generation of community champions by creating new opportunities for high school students to step up as volunteers and leaders. If you know a community-minded high schooler looking to deepen their leadership skills, stay tuned — recruitment for next year’s Youth United board begins soon!

#WhyWednesday: Ellie Munson

Ellie Munson knows that she won the birth lottery — and she’s taking a leadership role in her community to help other children have the same opportunities she benefitted from and to improve equity in education.

What’s the birth lottery? Let this Youth United of Greater Atlanta board member break it down for you.

Whether you’re passionate about improving education, health, financial stability, access to housing or filling basic needs for our community, United Way of Greater Atlanta has a way for you to get involved! Ready to get started? Start by learning more about our Child Well-Being Movement, and sign up to volunteer!

Claire Arnold started Youth United two years ago. She says she felt like there was a gap between high school-aged students and other affinity groups at United Way of Greater Atlanta.

“So many students have innovative and fresh ideas, but don’t know what to do with them,” Arnold said. “Youth United is a home for those ideas.’”

Arnold said when she was in high school, volunteering had become second nature. There were always opportunities, and she had teachers and counselors who were always encouraging her and her peers to volunteer. It was a part of her life, and she didn’t realize there were students who didn’t know they could do the same thing. So, Youth United was formed.

The service corps is open to youth in grades nine through 12. The purpose of the group is to develop the next generation of philanthropic leaders by creating unique opportunities for them to make an impact in their community. It’s a group for high school students with a passion for serving their communities.

“We have over 500 general members now, and 16 board members,” Arnold said. “They are from dozens of schools all over Atlanta. We have members from every one of [the 13 counties United Way serves].”

For many students, it’s their first time volunteering. Youth United is their first introduction to philanthropy. It’s a starting point, and a place to foster a love for giving back.

Youth United Board Member Abby Challas said she was drawn to the group because it was targeted toward high school students.

“What makes this program unique and appealing is that it’s not a one-and-done situation. It’s a recurring commitment,” Challas, a 17-year-old senior at Grady High School, said. “I liked that Youth United is a program that is aimed toward high school students that are passionate about service.”

In a city the size of Atlanta, you can drive 5 miles in any direction and encounter people across all walks of life, Challas says. She liked being able to create service projects based on need.

“I have a voice,” she said. “We [Youth United] focus on how to solve problems, and I like how we as youth can do that.”

Youth United gives teenagers a chance to make decisions and participate in projects that can have a lasting impact on their community.

“Students walk away knowing more about their community, how to give back and what United Way is,” Arnold said. “Youth United does something different for every project, and our board meets monthly to plan the projects each year. They are the ones who think through what causes to rally behind, what the real impact is and why it matters to them as teens. It’s truly a student-led organization.”

These board members select a cause they want to help—all of which are in alignment with United Way—and this year the group decided they want to further United Way’s Child Well-Being agenda, Arnold said.

United Way of Greater Atlanta announced at the end of its last strategic planning meeting the plan to improve the well-being of children across its 13-county region. United Way’s Child Well-Being Index takes 14 different child, family and community measures to determine a CWB score for a specific zip code. The CWB heat map, which is featured on unitedwayatlanta.org, ranges from green to red—red is on the low-scoring end of the spectrum.

United Way works actively to make sure zip code is no longer a barrier for children across Greater Atlanta.

“Youth United kicks off each year with our annual meal-packing party and project,” Arnold said. “We do it big with a DJ, lunch, prizes and music. This past year, we packed 500 snack packs.”

Annually, Youth United hosts the College Workshop in partnership with LINC and Young Professional Leaders. The event grows each year, providing resources to students as young as sixth grade.

“We have projects usually monthly,” Arnold said. “There is a way for a student to engage every month of the year, and students plan most of them. They give input on all of them.”

Challas is a second-year board member and one of those students who helps provide input for each project. She didn’t know anything about United Way before joining Youth United, she says, but she said the group helped her build lasting friendships.

“It’s a great experience, and it’s really rewarding being able to help other people that can’t help themselves,” Challas said. “You do make lots of friends. I would say to anyone looking to join, even if you take a leap and do this and you don’t know anybody, you’re going to end up bonding over that experience with different people.”

All high school-aged students are eligible to join, and Arnold said, “anyone with a passion for volunteering and their community will be at home with Youth United.”

“And when you become a board member, you become a part of the United Way family,” Challas said. “That’s something to be proud of. Even though I’m 17, there’s so many important, driven people out there that want to make a change, and I get to be a part of that.”

To learn more about Youth United and how to join or donate, visit www.unitedwayatlanta.org/group/youth-united.

We are excited to announce that after a highly competitive selection process, were ready to roll with this year’s new Youth United board! These 16 students are here to lead the student service movement in Atlanta. They’ll be doing intensive trainings and putting in the time to make this year’s projects better than ever!

Returning Members: 

  • Abby Challas, Senior, Grady High School
  • Mohamad Hashim, Senior, North Atlanta High School
  • Vani Senthil, Senior, Duluth High School

New Members: 

  • Askya Alexander, Senior, Grady High School
  • Ricardo Deleon, Junior, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
  • Sanaa Edole, Junior, Woodland High School
  • Zaria Henry, Senior, Chamblee Charter High School
  • David Hsi, Junior, Johns Creek High School
  • Noa Jerryman, Senior, Carver Early College
  • Karis Johnson, Senior, Shiloh High School
  • Khushi Magiawala, Senior, Alpharetta High School
  • Andrew Maiorino, Junior, Cambridge High School
  • Swaize Meeks, Senior, McEachern High School
  • Ellie Munson, Senior, Atlanta Girls School
  • Jaylin Simmons, Senior, McNair High School
  • JT Williams, Junior, North Atlanta High School

Tell us what YOU want to see YU do this year! Reach the board at youthunited@unitedwayatlanta.org. Send us your ideas! 

“My name is Roman Bacchetta, and I’m a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. From volunteer to board member to intern, it’s been quite a journey for me with United Way. Two years ago, I applied to become a member of the inaugural Youth United board after I had the privilege of touring the United Way headquarters. I was deeply inspired by the mission and expansive outreach of the organization, but also its unique level of personability, especially in the 2-1-1 call center.

In 2016, I was fortunate to be appointed to the first Youth United board along with twelve other Atlanta high schoolers. As Youth United members, we assisted with UWGA projects like the Shoebox Project and volunteered for several local nonprofits. Most importantly, the YU board collaboratively organized its own community service and engagement projects. In order to realize our visions for these projects, we investigated the most pressing issues in our own communities, worked alongside other nonprofits and businesses, and met regularly in teams to draft and flesh out our ideas. My experience with Youth United was extremely intensive and eye-opening, and I was able to become much more familiarized with the vast scope of UWGA’s mission and operations.

The summer after my first year in college, I knew I wanted to work again with the organization, so I applied to serve as an intern. This summer, as a Regional Development Marketing and Communications intern, I worked between the UWGA branches in several counties, educated the local community about United Way projects through various social media platforms, and developed a much better sense of what it means to engage and involve my community.

To all the Youth United members, I encourage you to stay involved in your community! Give back, volunteer, share your stories and ideas. You CAN make change!”