KEYS Giving Youth Insight To Philanthropy

Josh Silveus graduated from Kosciusko Endowment Youth Services (KEYS) more than a decade ago. He acknowledges that he probably undervalued the experience at the time – and yet, the lessons he learned remain firmly in his mind.

“One of my favorite aspects was grantmaking,” Josh said. He also remembers learning about nonprofit board procedures and fundraising, skills he encounters and employs today. “While in KEYS, I learned about local needs, like projects teachers in my school needed funding for. We helped them achieve their goals,” Josh explained. KEYS provided something special, well beyond an average volunteer experience. It permanently changed his perspective on philanthropy and opened his eyes to Kosciusko County’s best assets and deepest needs.

KEYS is a Community Foundation program designed to foster philanthropy in local students. It is comprised of 20 students who attend Lakeland Christian Academy, Tippecanoe Valley, Warsaw, and Wawasee schools. Students are selected by their school administration to join in eighth grade and remain active members in the program until they graduate from high school. Once a month, during the school year, they meet to practice philanthropy and build leadership skills. Annually, KEYS grants approximately $20,000 to projects, programs, and curricula that bring innovative and educational resources to schools and nonprofits throughout Kosciusko County.

To current and future KEYS students, Josh offers these words of advice: “I would encourage you to be invested and enjoy your time. Sometimes you don’t understand why you’re going through a process until afterward, but it’s still valuable,” Josh said.

Josh’s current involvement in the community echoes his time in KEYS. Outside of his career at Silveus Insurance Group, he serves on the board at the Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce and as president of Young Adult Professionals (YAP). Both roles put him in a position to address local needs with local resources, something he has come to appreciate after several trips across the country and around the globe.

“Kosciusko County has so much to offer,” Josh said. He has decided Kosciusko County should be his permanent home and strives to help others make that choice as well. “One of the things I’ve been thinking about is how we can improve our county and keep people here, incentivizing them to stay,” he added. “There’s no place like home.”