Organization skills

Non-profit youth organization working to raise funds for local and global causes | Community News

Rhapsody for Youth, a student-run nonprofit, recently made its annual donations, supporting local and global causes.

Founded in 2019, the group has made significant contributions to various organizations over the past two years, working to identify needs both close to home and far away. This year, Pleasanton co-chair Tony Wang said it wasn’t hard to choose an international cause to help.

“When we were brainstorming ideas for where to send our money this year, we decided to support the current global crisis in Ukraine,” said Tony, 16, a senior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton. “So we’re sending $2,500 to AirBNB’s Ukrainian Refugee Support Program, which provides temporary housing for Ukrainian refugees.”

For their local cause, Rhapsody executives sent an additional $2,500 to the San Francisco Conservation Corps. Wang noted that the body supports “young people and the environment, something our organization really believes in.”

To raise funds for its annual giving, Rhapsody for Youth offers classes on a variety of topics, including public speaking, creative and persuasive writing, entrepreneurship, and leadership. All classes are taught by high school students and most are aimed at middle school students.

Vivian Chang, a senior at College Preparatory School in Oakland, is co-chair of Rhapsody with Tony. She said she was proud that the group was able to have an impact thanks to her donations.

“We’ve been teaching for two years,” said 17-year-old Vivian. “With the donations, we wanted to expand our impact and make sure we were giving the money to an area that was in dire need. As a teenager, watching the news, I felt very helpless … thanks to this organization, I was able to have an impact.

Last year, Tony said the group donated a total of $10,000 to the Alameda County Food Bank, Larkin Street Youth Services and nonprofit Aim High. Oakland-based nonprofit that supports low-income and at-risk youth through education.

“It’s amazing to be able to send the funds we’ve raised through our efforts and see the impact they’re actually having,” Tony said. “It really validates all the hard work we’ve put in and is a great reminder of why we do what we do and helps keep us motivated.”

Caroline Gong, a resident of Pleasanton, is the founder of Rhapsody for Youth and is still a senior advisor, despite having graduated from high school. She said her goal in offering classes through Rhapsody was to provide students with the skills to become confident activists.

“Often students are left out of the narrative because they are considered too naive or inexperienced,” said Gong, 18. “I think this narrative undermines the (real) experiences of many American college students. For example, K-12 students are among the most common victims of gun violence. Marginalized students face discrimination and bullying on a daily basis. We understand what violence looks like, so it doesn’t make sense for us to be left out of conversations about our own safety, protection and future.