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The Eagle's Eye

The Eagle's Eye

The Eagle's Eye

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Teen Philanthropy: Crafting Compassion or College Credentials?

The Rise of High School Nonprofits
While+high+school+nonprofits+show+initiative%2C+many+see+their+end+after+a+student+goes+to+college%2C+as+many+times%2C+the+sole+reason+for+the+nonprofit+was+for+college+applications.+
SHRIADITI KANCHERLA ’26
While high school nonprofits show initiative, many see their end after a student goes to college, as many times, the sole reason for the nonprofit was for college applications.

Did you know that Cornell’s acceptance rate for their class of 2008 was almost 30%? Twenty years later, the acceptance rate has dwindled to a mere 7.34%. As these percentages continue to plummet, the rat-race of college admissions becomes more and more challenging for each graduating class, and it seems that some students are willing to do whatever it takes to get into their dream school.

As a result, a new phenomenon that has become increasingly popular is the creation of nonprofits or youth organizations as a “passion project.” The main goal for the founders is to show these prestigious colleges their leadership skills and dedication to solving communal, national, or even global problems.

At first glance, everyone benefits from this scenario. The founders of the nonprofits get to go to their dream school while the money obtained helps people in need. If both parties benefit, is there really an issue?

As it turns out, yes. Because it is more complicated than just considering who benefits and who doesn’t.

Perhaps the most ironic part of it all—the majority of these “nonprofits” are not actually what they claim to be. To become a nonprofit, you must file for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. Although it can be a long, tedious process, the effort that goes into it proves that nonprofit founders genuinely care about what they do for their cause. If these “nonprofits” do not do so, it just indicates straight-up lies and borderline illegality, which goes to show that such endeavors should be approached with caution.

Additionally, at the root of the lies are the intentions of the founders. The idea behind founding a nonprofit should be the pure desire to help others who are not in a position to help themselves. It shouldn’t be: I want to get into Stanford so I’m doing this to boost my application.

The founders only do things “for” the organization when it improves their image. A lack of passion behind the creation of the project leads to a lack of enthusiasm when doing events for the project, and without the actual desire to help, the nonprofit goes nowhere. Moreover, most of these founders just end up donating their funds to another larger and more accomplished nonprofit, acting as supplemental to these larger, more reputed organizations.

That’s not to say that the sentiments behind starting a nonprofit to get into a prestigious university aren’t understandable or common. Admission rates drop year by year, so it is normal for students to add new experiences to their extracurricular activities, hoping to take their application to the next level. The intentions behind starting the nonprofits may not be completely pure, but that doesn’t mean that these kids want to hurt people.

However, the main thing to keep in mind is that admission is never guaranteed. You could generate over $500,000,000 each year for your cause and Stanford may still pick someone else. Why do something for a cause you barely care about when you might still not get into your dream school? Additionally, the majority of applicants with nonprofits who do get picked have showcased that they truly care about the problem they’re working to fix. It’s not like they just started an organization to “Save the Turtles!” during April of their junior year; the people who do get picked because of their nonprofit have been working to fix it before high school even started.

Starting a nonprofit is not the only way to show a college that you are a worthy candidate. Volunteering for existing nonprofits, starting school clubs, and getting a job are all ways to show a college the same dedication and leadership skills that a “nonprofit” does. There are ways to bolster yourself without “working” for a cause you don’t actually care about.

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About the Contributors
MEHER MEHTA '25
MEHER MEHTA '25, People Editor
Meher has been a writer for the Eagle's Eye since her freshman year, and she has been a section editor for two years. She is the writer for the “Eagles Out of the Nest” column. Her column, along with many of her other articles, reflects her love of interacting with the EHS community. Meher is also the Vice President of Logistics for Quiz Bowl and Latin Club’s Treasurer, and she also participates in Peacock Society, DECA, and the Writer’s Wings magazine. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, cooking, learning about economics, or watching true crime shows.
SHRIADITI KANCHERLA ’26
SHRIADITI KANCHERLA ’26, Features Editor
Shriaditi Kancherla is currently a sophomore and an editor for the Features section, and has written for the publication since her freshman year. In addition to the "Eagle's Eye", she is the co-chair for the Rotary club and is a dedicated member of the marching band, DECA, and Peacock Society. During her free time, she enjoys reading, binge-watching Food Network, and singing. She is excited to meet the rest of "The Eagle's Eye" throughout the year!
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