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Grantmaking and grandchildren on International Youth Day

With Keith Ince and his grandchildren

With International Youth Day around the corner on Wednesday 12 August, now is an important time to reflect on youth voices, youth activism and youth engagement. As global temperatures steadily rise, and natural habitat continues to be destroyed, it is important to ask: What will be our environmental legacy for future generations?

The reality is that younger people will be disproportionately affected by the climate crisis compared to older generations, if it is left unaddressed, simply by virtue of living later. Australian youth are keenly aware of this: The Australia Institute found in 2019 that 83 per cent of youth are concerned by climate change, compared to 67 per cent of those over 55, while 72 per cent believe we should stop approving new coal mines, compared to 52 per cent of over 55s. Even the Australian Psychology Institute has noticed an increase in ‘climate distress’ among young people.

Keith Ince, The Keith & Jeannette Ince Fund, AEGN member and Chair of the Board, is deeply involved with the environment movement. But for his grandchildren, being conscious of the environment comes part and parcel of growing up in Australia today. 

Philanthropy across generations

Inez, 15, explains: “When I was younger, I knew I cared about the environment, but I didn’t know that what I was doing was impacting it”. After hearing about climate change in primary school, she says, “I realised there was a lot of things that I could do to help it, and a lot of things I could change about myself.”

Located just south of Noosa, Keith believes his grandchildren’s proximity to nature has also boosted their awareness of the nature, the issues we face and how to solve them.

The Black Summer fire season brought home a sense of urgency about the climate crisis for many across the country. For Keith and Jeannette, this meant involving younger generations in their philanthropy.

“When we were faced with the incredible destruction that happened with the forests and potentially over a billion animals being affected, we decided to involve all members of the family. We allocated $5000 to each family for them to determine how they would like to spend that money.”

Asha, 12 years old, and Inez, leapt at the opportunity to participate in their grandparents’ giving, deciding how and where to allocate the funds and presenting their reasoning at one of the family’s regular meetings. For Asha, the scenes of hurt animals and burnt bushland from Kangaroo Island that she was seeing online were “devastating”, while for Inez, it was important to make sure funds weren’t just distributed to one species or one location.

“They put a lot of thought into it… they really embraced it” recalls Keith. With the help of the bushfire response list (as selected by AEGN members), he was able to help connect his grandchildren with organisations that would fit their focus – Asha chose the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (who directed funding to Kangaroo Island), and Inez chose Animals Australia.

Younger and older generations working together are necessary in combatting issues on the scale of the climate crisis. Talking about his decision to involve his grandchildren in philanthropy, Keith says “Some of these things can be a little bit life changing… it was such a good thing to get them involved in, and we will continue allocating funds in future”. 

It seems to be working. When asked if they intend to get more involved in the climate movement in future, “Yes, definitely!” was Asha’s immediate response.

“It’s a really big thing” Asha says. “Most of our conversations over dinner with grandpa [are about the environment]. We talk about the animals, the world”. Inez adds that they often talk about “all the solutions we have, and how there are easy fixes if people are willing to fix things”.

As a result of this, Asha and Inez have made changes to their lifestyle to reduce their environmental footprint, while encouraging others in their family (including Keith and Jeannette) to do the same. Their household, at Inez’s request, has successfully gone zero waste, while also committing to a plant-based diet in order to reduce their gas footprint.

You can find projects that support youth or may be of interest to young people in your family on our Clearinghouse.