Tue, Jul 20, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Non-profit groups target the young

BROADENING HORIZONS Seeking out young people to get involved in the nation's so-called third sector of non-profit organizations is proving to be a difficult task

By Evelyn Shih  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

In an effort to bring diverse youth talent to the non-profit sector and award youth involvement in social issues, the National Youth Commission is holding the second annual non-profit creativity contest for students aged 18 to 30.

"Non-profit organizations are a third sector beyond private and the public; another choice for future careers that few students outside of the social science departments know about," said Huang Ying-chang (黃盈彰), chief planner of the event at the Teach-er Chang Foundation.

Candidates for the NT$20,000 prize can submit documentary pictures and essays on non-profit activities and conferences held by the commission, or on other volunteering experience. In a separate category, submissions may be proposals for non-profit projects.

Winning proposals will be implemented with the help of non-profit organizations and government funding.

The contest is part of a three-pronged "campus roots" project by the commission, which has already brought speakers to campuses and provided tours of non-profit organizations around the island earlier this year.

"As the last part of the project, we hope college population will become active creators instead of participating passively in planned events," Lin Yu-jing (林玉菁), a commission member said.

The "roots" project was the brainchild of Guo Shi-Yun (郭世 雲), age 22 at the time, who attended the UN's World Summit on Sustainable Development as a local representative. Returning from the Summit, Guo felt that young people in this country lacked both understanding and the opportunity to influence social issues compared to young people in other nations.

"Non-profits are the easiest way for young people to use their creative energy and to make a difference," Guo said.

"Local non-profit groups will also benefit from young peoples' talent. It would be a mutually beneficial relationship if we could bring the two together," she added.

"It's important that youth can act in the interest of society, instead of merely protesting verbally," Guo added.

Guo wrote her own proposal and sent it to Premier Yu Shyi-kun, who decided to put her plan into action. She worked with the commission and the Teacher Chang Foundation to bring the project to fruition.

The first year's contest was largely experimental, Guo said.

"Young people don't really understand much about non-profit groups other than recognizing the names of some organizations," she said.

"On the demand side of the equation, non-profit organizations are not necessarily actively searching for youth talent," she said.

"This understanding should be cultivated over time," Guo said.

"We are giving young people a chance to realize the products of their own creativity, and that is important," she said.

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