2016 Model Foundation: A Participant’s Perspective

Contributed by Jinglun Zhang, 2016 Model Foundation Participant


How would you improve the world with $20,000? How could you use it effectively to create social impact?

This August, 27 young people from all around the world gathered in Beijing to answer this question at Model Foundation 2016. Together, we embarked on a journey to investigate different social organizations, interview philanthropists and changemakers, and find the best way to make the biggest impact.

Model Foundation is China’s first and only “young people’s foundation” and where millennials can practice strategic philanthropy and support impactful social organizations in China with a 20,000 USD fund. With the belief that everyone can be a philanthropist, PIM has given me the knowledge and tools to evaluate NGOs/social enterprises and identify how to best support their missions.

In 2016, we had 9 NGOs/social enterprises competing for the $20,000 grant, with missions ranging from forest restoration to fashion upcycling. After an intensive 6-week process, my fellow grant committee officers and I decided to support Education in Sight, dedicated to improving the eyesight of rural children, and Xixi Gardencommitted to providing comprehensive sexual education to migrant children.

For me personally, Model Foundation was an incredible opportunity to translate my own philanthropic aspirations into shared collective action.

Voting on our shared mission and guiding values as Grant Committee Officers

After discussing missions and doing value prioritization in small groups, we reconvened to reach a general consensus on what our Model Foundation this year should stand for.

Several speakers shared their deep knowledge and experience of the social sector landscape. Caron Qian from Yizhong Fund sharing about her lessons starting a collective giving circle with 100 philanthropists in Shanghai.

We conducted two rounds of interviews with participating NGOs to learn more about their team, budget, operating models, programming, and more.

Participants conducting video interview and Q&A with the co-founder of Bridging Education and Mobility (BEAM).


Engaging with design thinking principles.

In the Design Thinking workshop, we thought about how to best design an organization or project with the target demographic in mind.


Participants debating the pros and cons of NGOs and drafting proposals on the allocation of the $20,000 fund.


The deliberations process involved two rounds of comprehensive discussion on our finalist organizations, based on their sustainability, proposal, and more.

Exploring how to leverage innovation for impact in our closing conference. The “Scaling Impact through Technology” panel featured Dina Yang, Deputy Director at the Gates Foundation; Liu Shutong, Founder of MotionECO; Tyler Lyman, CEO of MicroBenefits; and Stuart Oda, Founder of Alesca Life Techonologies.

After the deliberations, we attended the two-day Innovation for Impact summit, which brought together leaders from the tech, business, and social sectors to discuss the latest in social impact thinking.

“Participatory Models of Change” panel discussion featuring Zoe Shen, Assistant Secretary General of One Foundation; Chung To, Founder of Chi Heng Foundation; Charlene (Xiuli) Wang, Associate Professor of New Media, PKU; moderated by Dr. Chan Yu, Deputy Program Director of Master of Social Sciences in Nonprofit Management at the University of Hong Kong

Breakout sessions: Mentors worked with participants to plan their own mission-driven careers


We engaged with speakers one-on-one, exploring ways to incorporate a social mission into our own future careers.


Presenting awards to the founders of our two finalist organizations, Education in Sight and XiXi Garden.

In the end, we awarded this year’s Model Foundation grant to two organizations, both involved in assisting disadvantaged youth.

Model Foundation 2016!