Applications Open for Fall 2023 Community Foundation Grant ProgramsJuly 5, 2023
Educators in DeKalb County Recognized for ExcellenceJuly 11, 2023
Meet Thomas Schramer, Youth Engaged in Philanthropy (YEP) alum and a 2021 graduate of DeKalb High School. During his four years in the YEP program, Thomas had many opportunities for leadership development and embracing philanthropy. Recently, we had a chance for a quick interview to see what he’s up to.
So where is Thomas now, and did the YEP program impact his life after high school? Let’s find out!
Meet Thomas Schramer
Hi, My name is Thomas Schramer, and I went to DeKalb High School, graduating class of 2021.
- (Q) How many years were you in YEP?
(Thomas) I was in YEP for four years, was a grant group leader, and served on the YEP Fundraising Committee.
- (Q) Where are you now, and what are you up to?
(Thomas) I begin my junior year at the University of IL Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 2023, studying political science and history. I am currently a summer 2023 intern for the office of State Representative Jeff Keicher. My responsibilities include conducting research, attending meetings, and interacting with our local community and businesses. It’s been an amazing opportunity so far, and I look forward to seeing what other experiences I can take part in and skills I can develop this summer!
- (Q) What’s a recent accomplishment you are proud of?
(Thomas) In the spring of 2023, I had a fantastic opportunity with my university’s Illinois in Washington Program. The internship allows students the experience of living, interning, and studying in Washington, D.C. for a semester. I worked with Kentucky Representative Morgan McGarvey writing co-sponsor memos, attending meetings, working with organizations that visited the office, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with other U.S. Representatives. It was an amazing experience! Apart from the legislative process, I also learned an immense amount about communication, citizenship, addressing concerns, and understanding the levels of complexity involved in government relations.
- Another accomplishment I’m proud of is the upcoming opportunity to conduct research with my university, in collaboration with the University of Iowa next year. The study focuses on international conflict and how cooperation lessens the chances of civil conflict. I’m excited to begin this opportunity next semester!
- (Q) What were your most significant takeaways from YEP, and how are you using them now?
(Thomas) YEP introduced me to community awareness and shaped my desire to participate in building better communities. Without my participation in YEP, I wouldn’t have developed a mindset on community-focused issues. It gave me leadership opportunities and the freedom to ask questions to understand funding decisions and goals.
- In addition, my time in YEP impacted my career pursuit. I never thought I’d be interested in political science. Then I learned through YEP meetings about my community and ways I could get involved. Since that initial spark, my interest in political science and community topics has only grown. YEP teaches social and analytical skills and educates members about grantmaking and community service. Not only are these skills helpful in my career pursuit, but they are essential in being a good citizen, regardless of field.
(Q) How are you currently (or plan to soon) giving of your time, talent, and treasure?
(Thomas) I have volunteered on campus for the Education Justice Project, which provides educational opportunities to men incarcerated at Danville Correctional Center. I conducted research during my volunteer time and created a list of reading materials and resources. The list was published on the organization’s website and contains helpful information utilized by inmates and the general public alike. Seeing my research and volunteer work being put to good use to help others was exciting.
- I also serve on a student political organization called Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA). YDSA is an on-campus group that forms special task groups to interact with the community and assist with needs. They conduct homeless community projects, shelter donations, defend immigrant rights, and more. I enjoy the local focus of this group. It brings tremendous value to our local community, and I commit to doing my part to help.
- (Q) Do you have a fun/favorite memory of YEP to share?
(Thomas) The December YEP meetings are by far my favorite memories. From the group interaction and team-building activities to the cookies and gift exchange, it’s a fun meeting that draws members closer together. The December meetings embrace giving and friendship, core elements of the YEP committee.
- (Q) What advice do you have for future/current YEP members?
(Thomas) Future and current members, a few suggestions: Be bold, ask questions, and be curious. Asking questions helps everyone, and the inquisitive mindset you gain from asking questions will be useful no matter where life takes you. Be a leader and ask!
- Have a desire to make your community a better place. YEP presents you with opportunities to not only discover yourself and your interests, but the impact of your membership, which is something that you will see every day.
- Channel your desire to do good and use your time, talent, and treasure to help others. YEP lays the groundwork for skills you will use every day!