Community Foundation Youth Advisory Councils Prioritize Youth Mental Health in Recent Grants
Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation Youth Advisory Councils (YAC), composed of area high school students, recently awarded $71,800 in grant funding, with each of the five county-based groups supporting Michael’s Place, in addition to other youth mental health programs, citing the critical support and counseling they offer grieving youth.
“This year, our YAC completed its Youth Needs Assessment and mental health emerged as a top issue facing regional youth,” said Gina Thorbury, Community Foundation Program and Grants Manager and YAC Advisor. “This needs assessment informs the YACs’ decision-making and was reflected this year in the impactful grants awarded to Michael’s Place and other organizations supporting child abuse prevention, youth training and after-school programs, literacy, and other youth-led initiatives.”
The Community Foundation YAC is a program that provides high school students from Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau Counties opportunity as leaders and grantmakers in their local communities through awarding funding from the Community Foundation Youth Endowment.
“While balancing school disruptions and moving the entire grantmaking process to a virtual format this year, our YAC students did an incredible job stewarding funding from the Youth Endowment to make meaningful and impactful grants aligned with needs prioritized by youth,” said Thornbury.
The $71,800 directed by YAC is part of a total grant amount from the fall grant cycle of $265,373, which was recently approved by the Community Foundation Board of Directors. In total, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $3.5 million in grants and scholarships this year.
Overall more than 36 grantees from across all five counties of the region received funding. These responsive grant awards from the fall cycle and YAC represent the many areas that are essential to a healthy, resilient, and thriving region — childcare and early childhood education, health and human services, environmental protection, and more.
“It is encouraging to see how the grants awarded through our YAC and fall grant process also align with the prioritized objectives in the recently launched Community Development Strategy and shared scorecard,” said Dave Mengebier, Community Foundation president and CEO. Mengebier pointed to youth mental health, for example, as one of four societal objectives in the scorecard that emerged as a funding focus by the YAC groups.
“To achieve the outcomes laid out in the scorecard, it’s going to take not only coordinated efforts and energy, but also aligning funding to support the ongoing efforts of the community partners leading the work to meet the economic, societal, and environmental objectives identified,” said Mengebier.
The Community Foundation and nearly 30 partners publicly launched the Community Development Coalition and Scorecard earlier this fall. The partners in the Coalition are working together to embrace interdependent strategies and shared accountability to drive favorable outcomes across the region.
Mengebier added that the funding the Community Foundation has awarded this year is possible because of the generosity of individual donors over the years.
“We’re grateful to the many generous donors whose gifts to the Community Foundation and to our endowments help us support community efforts,” said Mengebier. “As stewards of these community assets we are working to reinvest this funding back into the community, to aid our nonprofit partners in their invaluable work, and to honor donor’s wishes.”