ALPENA – More than 130 youth grantmakers from across northeast Michigan, including Cheboygan County, converged upon Alpena on October 21 for a regional Youth Advisory Council (YAC) training event. The training was a day-long session hosted by the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) for all of the YACs in its nine-county service area. Facilitating the training were staff and former YAC members from the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF).
During the event, YAC members from the Straits Area Community Foundation (SACF) and other community foundations in the region, dug deep into several aspects of youth philanthropy, including what makes a good grant vs. a great grant. They also had discussions on the importance and many benefits of community service activities; fund development projects that build relationships and increase gifts to the Kellogg Endowment Funds at the Community Foundation from where their YAC grants are made; and participated in collaboration and team-building activities.
“One of the most valuable part of this conference was getting together with the other YACs and learning the differences in how we run our YAC and the various other YACs,” said Alpena YAC member Evan Carlson. “Something every person in northeast Michigan should know about YAC is that we are a youth philanthropy organization contributing to making our communities a better place.”
YAC members traveled to Alpena from Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Ogemaw and Oscoda Counties to attend the event. Also attending the training were 12 adult YAC advisors.
“These adult advisors play an important role in our YACs,” said CFNEM Program Officer Kara Bauer LeMonds. “The Community Foundation has a YAC serving every county in our service area, and these advisors help it all come together so the YACers can review grant applications, and then they step back to let the kids make the decisions. They make this incredible program that much greater for their involvement.”
Each YAC reviews grant applications once a year. Nonprofits with youth projects submit their grant applications to the Community Foundation, which are then sent to the YACs. Each applicant is required to give a presentation on their project in front of the YAC members, who then get the opportunity to ask questions of the applicants. Then the YAC members make their grant recommendations.
“Our YACs do a great job of taking the information they have from applications and presentations, and then making very fair and informed decisions,” said Bauer LeMonds. “They consider the amount they have available to spend for grants, how many youth the project will impact, as well as how each project can address some of the most pressing issues for their fellow youth.”
Funds for YAC grants come from the Kellogg Youth Endowment Funds at CFNEM, and at each of its affiliates: the Iosco County Community Foundation, the North Central Michigan Community Foundation and the Straits Area Community Foundation.
In the past year, CFNEM’s Youth Advisory Councils have awarded a combined $89,000 to youth programs throughout northeast Michigan. Established through a matching grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Northeast Michigan Youth Advisory Council has been making grants since 1993, while the affiliate YACs began in 1998. Since their beginnings, our YACs have awarded more than $2 million in grants.