Georgia Youth Leaders helps shape Gen Z through service

Photo submitted by Georgia Youth Leaders

Gen Z has proven itself a force to be reckoned with: They are insightful, outspoken changemakers who seek to improve their communities and beyond. Notable figures of Gen Z include Zendaya, Yara Shahidi and Greta Thunberg, who all advocate for change among their generation.

Georgia Youth Leaders is a nonprofit focusing on helping teens find their passions through community service.

High school students Deesha Panchal and Kruthik Ravikanti founded the organization in March 2020. Both students noticed issues among their student organizations who lacked a 501(c)(3) status. This status certifies organizations as nonprofits and grants the resources necessary to reach their full potential.

“I reached out to [Ravikanti] with an idea to create an organization that would help elevate student community outreach projects,” Panchal said.

GYL aims to bridge a connection between volunteer organizations and teens looking to become changemakers.

“Our organization is composed of eight student organizations that share a variety of missions that inspire students to do community service they are passionate about,” Panchal said. “We help by connecting students to organizations that align with their passions and encouraging these connections to continue.”

GYL establishes connections in high school, allowing students to dive into their interests before attending college. They garner membership through their extensive network of students or by reaching out to peers and by promoting their organization on social media.

The organization also allows members to bring outside volunteer opportunities that align with their interests. They often look at other partner organizations and collaborate with student members who already have 501(c)(3) organizations.

Most notably, GYL has recently collaborated with nonprofit sole supply to donate care packages to the homeless.

Serving their members and community has not been easy. The students involved have faced hardships and accomplishments in their journey to expand and further solidify their organization. These revolve around the logistics and legalities involved in running a nonprofit organization. 

“Trying to steer away from micromanaging every aspect has also posed a challenge,” Panchal said. “However, our biggest accomplishment has been receiving a $1,000 grant from We Care We Connect We Share to help with a lot of our administrative work.”

In addition to volunteer opportunities, the organization operates a literacy project. Seeds of Literature creates syllabi and provides school books for students in developing nations through donations. The organization’s projects foster literacy and encourage students to provide resources for people outside the U.S.

While facing a pandemic, GYL adapted to make all volunteer opportunities and programs COVID-19 safe. All current GYL meetings and events occur virtually, and their daughter organizations continue to host volunteer opportunities virtually or in-person while following guidelines.

GYL seeks to expand to college students. They aim to continue their growth as a high school organization, create an impact in their communities and foster the next generation of leaders ready to make a difference through community service that caters to their passions.