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The Giving Circle of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation is a group of young philanthropists who pool their funds and collectively give micro-grants to individuals and organizations in the Yellow Springs area. Some members who attended a Zoom meeting last year are, clockwise from top left, Alex Melamed and Allison Paul, Angie Hsu and Matan Mazursky, Ann Poortinga, Mark Ewalt with daughter Willa and Zoey Bryant. (Submitted screenshot)

Giving Circle inspires philanthropists

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By Elle Peifer

Angie Hsu has long had a passion for philanthropic work. In high school in Colorado, where she grew up, she served on the youth board of the Boulder Foundation. The group allocated grants to youth programs, and she served for three years.

“That was probably very definitive in introducing me to philanthropy and social engagement,” Hsu, now 32, said in a recent interview.

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So when she moved here three years ago, Hsu connected with the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, or YSCF. She’s now a board member.

At the same time, she started, with others, what’s known as a giving circle, to contribute to her own philanthropy. It’s now known as the YSCF Giving Circle.

The local giving circle actually started abroad. Before Hsu and her partner, Matan Mazursky, moved to Yellow Springs, they had been living in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. During their time in Israel they met and befriended Kayla Rothman-Zecher and Moriel Rothman-Zecher, who now also reside in Yellow Springs.

The four friends initiated their own giving circle, based on shared social justice interests, after being inspired by others doing the same.

“We knew people who were involved in starting these giving circles, so they encouraged us to start one that focused on migrant workers and refugees,” Hsu said. “We wanted a place to support those initiatives.”

After moving to Yellow Springs, the four realized that they had come to love the model. They experienced it working first-hand, and wanted to try it in their new community.

The idea is quite simple; anyone can join the group with a small sum of money. The group started out with a $10 donation fee per person per month to be a part of the group. The amount was small, but the idea was that it would be very consistent each month. The sum of money is then matched by the Yellow Springs Community Foundation.

After the group had been established, the members met to discuss what kind of issues they would like to focus on collectively.

“The goal when we started was two fold: we wanted to get enough people who wanted to be a part of the giving circle and contribute monthly,” Hsu said. “We started at $10 a month because we felt like that was a number that would make it accessible for a lot of people to be able to join.”

Due to COVID-19, the size of the group has fluctuated since its establishment in fall of 2019. The group usually runs around 10 to 20 members. They took a break from meeting because of the pandemic but are starting to meet regularly again, every other month.

“As COVID got more intense we took a break,” Hsu said. “We were on a hiatus because we were not getting any applications.”

Since reopening, the group is now accepting applications from anyone, whereas the giving circle focused on youth before.

“We decided to open it up to all ages because of COVID,” Hsu explained. “It is a lot of pressure for students, teachers and parents with online learning. But we hope they still apply.”

The goal of the organization was initially to give micro-grants, which are $500, to young people in the community who were working on projects centered around social justice. The grant is for people who have the passion and motivation for issues, but not necessarily the money to complete the projects. The group has now opened up applications for social justice-related projects to any age group within the community. Anyone who is interested in applying should visit the Yellow Springs Community Foundation website.

“The last project we funded was for youth artists who were going to do public art on social justice and Black Lives Matter,” Hsu said. The artists are currently in “planning mode” right now to determine where to paint murals in Yellow Springs, Hsu added.

Being a member of the giving circle has helped close a gap of information between adults in the community and people working on social justice projects within the community, Hsu reflected. The group saw a need for more engagement and support for these issues.

“It is one way to learn more about things that are happening in the community,” Hsu said. “We know that there are a lot of things happening here; a lot of great ideas and innovation. But it is not always known. This is just one way in which a small amount of money and a small amount of time allows people in the group to learn about what is happening in the community.”

Many group members are in stages of their lives where they might not necessarily be able to commit to a board position or regularly be able to volunteer at nonprofits, Hsu added. Many have younger children — including herself — or work full time. The giving circle allows them to make a positive impact on the community while also having enough time for busy lives.

“It is a bridge of connection to a group of young and engaged residents of Yellow Springs and the philanthropic scene,” Hsu said.

Anyone interested in either joining the giving circle or submitting a grant should contact Hsu at:

*The writer is an Ohio Wesleyan University rising senior and Yellow Springs Community Foundation Miller Fellow working for the News. She can be reached at

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