Back to News

AmeriCorps VISTA and Advise MI Members Serve Oceana Students

Two local AmeriCorps positions were recently filled to confront Oceana’s education challenges and to overcome poverty barriers. The Community Foundation for Oceana County (CFOC) partnered with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) for a second 3-year partnership to host an Americorps VISTA member. The other AmeriCorps member is serving Hart and Shelby High Schools as a College Advisor to begin the fourth year partnership with Michigan College Access Network (MCAN)’s Advise MI program.

Tyler Kempf, of Manistee, filled CFOC’s recently vacated VISTA position late this summer. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in History and German and fresh from his Senior year abroad in Germany, Tyler is excited to return to West Michigan and give back to the communities that raised him. “My varied, including foreign, post-high school experiences taught me hard-fought lessons and brought me boundless joy. I aspire to learn further from serving in Oceana County,” Kempf stated. In this position, Tyler’s service will focus on assisting the Foundation board in their evaluation of the current scholarship program and other student supports. Additionally, Tyler will spend half of his time with the Oceana College Access Network (Oceana CAN!) to increase student-business connections to increase career awareness, mentoring support and post-secondary outcomes.

Danielle Siegel, who served as CFOC’s AmeriCorps VISTA member for the past two years, has now joined the Foundation staff following the end of her service.  Ms. Siegel will take on the role of Program Assistant, continuing coordination of the early literacy program Read early. Read often. and tackling new programmatic roles with the Youth Advisory Council, scholarships, and grant support.

Serving under MCAN’s AdviseMI program as the new College Adviser for Hart and Shelby high schools is Emma Urbanski. Emma hails from Grand Rapids and is a recent graduate of Aquinas College, with a degree in Psychology. Eager to make the move north, Emma is excited to join the community.

Emma will be serving as a resource to high school students and families as they navigate next steps towards postsecondary education. Emma will help students explore and research different paths to careers, provide assistance with the college application and FAFSA processes, promote scholarship opportunities, host students on college & training tours and much more. As she embarks on her year of service, Emma is looking forward to fostering a college-going and career-ready culture within the high school communities.

With 66% of Oceana students enrolling in post-secondary institutions annually and only 33% of those students completing certificate or degree programs, these AmeriCorps members are able to help connect more students and families to the help they need. With 70% of new jobs in Michigan requiring a degree or certification, it is critical to encourage education and training after high school to develop a more talented workforce.

To learn more about AmeriCorps or these positions, contact current members by calling the Foundation office at (231) 869-3377.  If you are a Shelby or Hart High School student thinking about your next steps, stop in to see Ms. Urbanski in your counseling office. The Foundation envisions an Oceana where everyone has access to resources to thrive. We work with donors, advisors and members of the community for one common goal—to make our community a stronger, healthier, more vibrant place to live and have provided over $6.5 million in grants and scholarships back to the community since 1989. Learn more at