The movement: Why nonprofits started by millennials are the best idea ever.

Getting something started is never easy. Figuring out how to get it going is even harder. Doing it in the midst of a gig economy while you already have three part time jobs is insane. Realizing you have no idea what you’re doing and doing it anyway? Scary. As. Hell. Yet, I’ve come to realize that this is what makes millennials so great. We often have no idea what we’re doing, but that doesn’t stop us from doing it with gusto. It’s probably because of all those participation trophies I got as a kid—I believe I can win at anything.

There’s a huge potential for failure, unfortunately. If I learned anything, it was that the kids that DID get the participation trophies were the chumps. It’s great to get an A for effort, but I want more than that for Code/Out. I want to see people succeed, myself included. Like, if I could actually afford to pay off my student loans, or even just the interest, that would be fantastic (yes, I’d consider myself successful if I could JUST pay the interest accumulating on those bad boys). ANYway. I didn’t get into non-profit to get rich—obvi, but I did get into it because I want to make a difference AND not starve.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m the executive director of a non-profit start up that’s teaching women in Georgia’s prison system to code. We’ll be effectively doubling their income potential. So you know if I could someday pay myself the same amount that these women will be paid in entry-level jobs? That would be fabulous. It’s a work in progress. We’re broke at this point but I’m not starving (mostly because those loans I have are in forbearance).

So here I am, an avocado-toast-eating, single mom, boy-raising, non-profit-starting, tattooed badass millennial with a dream and a passion. Go ahead, tell me millennials aren’t the greatest generation ever. Go ahead. I’ll argue with you until I’m trolling you and making you wish you were never born and I’ll do it because I am not unique. My friends and colleagues and Facebook acquaintances and twitter pals are invested in our present, searching ways for the future to be better and hardcore about accepting our past history. 

Certainly, I have the best idea ever and it’s amazing and it will work because all those participation trophies I got as a kid told me so, even if they were just for the chumps. But if it doesn’t work? Failing will show me how to do it different next time. It will allow me to see how both the nonprofit and myself can be better. It will remind me that my generation doesn’t take no for an answer. We’ll easily be paid horrible wages for doing twice the work and also be drowning in student debt—and still care about the world and the people around us. Most of the time, that’s exhausting. But often it’s incredible.

I was amazed by my own generation when during our initial fundraiser millennial gave twice the amount per capita than their older counterparts. Not to say old people aren’t useful, they are. I’m just saying. That’s not all, despite the income disparities millennials also gave a higher percentage of their monthly income than their boomer counterparts too. My faith in my generation was backed by the actions of those younger than I who seek to make the world a better place.

So I’ll take my yoga class to decompress. I’ll do some meditation to practice self-care and write in my journal so I can understand my emotional process. I’ll talk to my direct message group of four girls that cheer me on, communicate with my group-text of women that have my back to the moon, and I’ll grow my tribe with more women. You know why? Because millennials don’t believe that our gender affiliation has to mean we’re in competition. We don’t have to compete; instead, we get to encourage. That’s why my organization focuses on the female prison population; I get to encourage women for a living. Who WOULDN’T want to do that?

It’s not perfect, this millennial generation. Certainly, I’m on the older side of it and the younger side can wrap circles around me when it comes to Snapchat. I barely hold my ground with Instagram. Don’t mess with me on twitter though, I’ll hashtag you out of existence. Yes, our social media affiliations can most certainly age us within our own generation but connections built with these tools makes us stronger not weaker. Our connections to the world may seem tenuous to the old but some of my best friends in those group chats are women I’ve never met in person but who love me without reservation.

Now pardon me while I call Naviant and delay another payment on my student debt, have my groceries delivered, let my kid play with my smartphone and empower the women in my community to do some seriously cool stuff.

–Hannah Hill
Executive Director

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