For giving and community engagement to become a lifelong commitment, the seeds must be planted early. And that’s the idea behind OMRF’s Teen Leaders program.
Each year since 2013, OMRF has selected roughly 50 state high schoolers for a yearlong initiative. The program teaches lessons in supporting community-enriching institutions like OMRF.
“We work together in a melting pot of ideas and experiences,” says Lindsay Best, a student at Oklahoma City’s Bishop McGuiness Catholic High School.
The teens spend time with civic leaders, nonprofit specialists, philanthropists and OMRF scientists.
The foundation’s researchers sharing their stories was “eye-opening” for Deer Creek High School’s Shivani Sugunan. “I don’t know anyone who’s a scientist, so it was amazing to hear the career steps they took, their process in the lab and how they see the world.”
For Cyrus Mortazavi, who completed the program in high school and now is enrolled as a pre-med student at the University of Oklahoma, learning about philanthropy in the context of medicine and research hit home. “I thought it was a great way to begin to prepare myself for the field. You learn from the speakers, but you also learn from the students.”
Best, a two-time Teen Leader, says she’ll carry the program’s lessons into the next phases of her life.
“It prepared me to be a person for my community,” she says. “OMRF taught me to advocate for causes that need it and gave me the courage to do it, too.”
More than 300 teens have now completed the program. The fruits of those efforts will no doubt ripen in Oklahoma communities for years to come.
Read more from The Givers
Building The Foundation
Matter of Trust
Giving with Gratitude
Partnering for Health
A Family Affair