What are YACs?
YACs (Youth Advisory Councils) are groups of young philanthropists-in-training who are connected to their community through grantmaking.
1. Young people learn the impact giving has for their fellow youth and for the betterment of their own community.
2. Local nonprofits receive much-needed funding for important youth projects that would not be likely to occur without these grants.
Who are YACers?
They are local young people who want to make a real difference in their community. There is a YAC in every county in the Foundation's service area. For Straits Area Community Foundation, that includes youth from across Cheboygan County and Mackinaw City.
How does YAC make grants?
Every grant comes from the Kellogg Youth Endowment Funds held at the foundation. For this group that is the Straits Area Kellogg Youth Fund. These funds are permanently endowed, creating annual income every year - forever - to be used for youth grantmaking. Our YACs review grant applications and decide where the money goes. As the fund grows through private donations and investment income, our YACs can award more, and larger grants.
Who gets the grants?
Local nonprofits. YAC grants support a large number of nonprofits including the local schools and libraries, Cheboygan Compassionate Ministries,Cheboygan Hockey Association, Thunder Bay Community Health Services, Friends of Ottawa Park, Mackinaw City Area Arts Council, and so much more. Projects that give our children warm clothing for winter, food to hungry kids and families, provide unique educational and recreational opportunities, keep arts programs in schools, and more are all supported by our YACs. Every grant stays local to benefit programs that affect youth in our communities.
How can I help?
Make a gift. Aside from lasting forever, your donation does two incredible things: It creates generations of youth who understand the importance of giving back AND it supports the many local nonprofits doing great work in our youth communities.
The Facts of YAC
Since 1993 our YACs have awarded over $2.27 million in grants for youth projects in our service area. In the Straits Area specifically, more than $111,000 has been granted since 1998.
We have over 130 youth ages 12-19 from our nine counties actively participating in the YAC program.
Our YACs work as a liaison between the Foundation and our youth communities. CFNEM is currently the only community foundation in northern Michigan with a voting youth on our Board of Trustees, who is always one of our YAC members.
Our YAC is part of the Michigan Community Foundations Youth Project (MCFYP). Because of this, Michigan has the largest concentration of YACs in the country. This is the youth philanthropy program after which most other YAC programs in the nation are modeled.
Our YACs conduct a tri-annual assessment of the biggest issues affecting youth in their own communities, and then award a portion of their grants to projects directly addressing those issues. Across all nine counties, the most recent assessment showed mental health, depression, stress, bullying, and school work among youth and families as the top concerns of our kids. Also moving higher on the list of concerns is body image/appearance issues. See the full needs assessment results for 2022.
YACs are youth-led organizations. Administrative support is handled by the Community Foundation, and YACs work with incredible adult advisors to help coordinate logistics and their youth community involvement.
Want to learn more about our YACs?
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All Youth Advisory Council grants go through a competitive application process. Nonprofits apply for grants, which are then vetted through the Community Foundation office. Those applications get reviewed by our Youth Advisory Councils. Depending on the size of the grant request, applicants are required to give a presentation to the YAC members about their project. YACs review, discuss and deliberate on all of the applications coming to a consensus on the grant recommendations. YACers decide whether a grant is funded or not, and at what level. Their decisions are based on the application, presentation, dollars available for granting, number of youth affected, and how the project aligns with the top ten youth issues identified in their youth needs assessment. The YAC's grant recommendations then go to the Community Foundation Board of Trustees for final approval. Grants to nonprofits are paid upon completion of their project, ensuring that the YAC's grants are used for their intended purposes.
Our YACs often follow up with grantees through site visits to their projects, and sometimes provide volunteer support for grantee projects where needed.
Every three years our Youth Advisory Councils work with our staff and their advisors to conduct a survey of their fellow youth to determine what their peers feel are the most pressing and urgent issues they face. Once those results are compiled, the top ten issues are used as a grantmaking guideline to help our YACs direct grant funding toward where it is needed most. The last Youth Needs Assessment was conducted in 2022, showing the top issues across all nine counties as mental health and depression, stress issues, and school work. See the full 2022 survey results.
YACs are open to youth ages 12 to 21 in our service area who are interested in making a difference in their youth community through grantmaking and service. The opportunities to gain leadership skills and to see first-hand the role charitable giving can have in their communities abound with the YAC program. Interested students or parents with questions may contact the Community Foundation at 1-989-354-6881 for more information, or email us at email@example.com.
Each YAC is convened and operates under the guidance of an adult YAC advisor. Our advisors are an essential part of our YACs, as they help Foundation staff ensure the YAC program runs smoothly in each county by helping the youth organize and schedule meetings, coordinate registration, and help our YACers take part in youth philanthropy opportunities like community service projects, conferences, and region-wide YAC training events. When it comes to grantmaking, one of the most important things an advisor does is step back to allow the YAC members to hash out grant decisions and ask questions of grantees.
The entire YAC program perches atop four main pillars: Grantmaking, Leadership, Community Service, and Philanthropy. Grantmaking is the heart of the YAC program. It teaches the importance of philanthropy in the present and future needs of a community; it allows them the opportunity for service centered around the grantees and other needs in their communities, and through all of this, creates leaders and future philanthropists.
Endowments are permanent community assets. When a donation is made to an endowed fund at the Community Foundation, the donation itself is not spent. It is invested with the rest of the fund forever. Each year, 5% of the total amount of the fund is available for grants. As the fund grows through additional donations and investment income, the amount available to grant also grows. A donation to an endowment fund will pay out the additional gift amount in spades over time. For example, an endowed fund established with $10,000 will create $500 for grants. As the fund grows over time and reaches assets of $100,000, $5,000 is available for granting. At $1 million in assets, that same fund will generate $50,000 annually. An endowment fund's timeline is forever, making it a strong community asset for current and future generations.