Leading “Generation Y” in Caring
<February 1, 2016> The Community Foundation for Oceana County’s (CFOC) philanthropy leadership includes mentoring a group of high school students who supported the distribution of $16,858 to promising youth projects in 2015. The 43 students from the 5 area high schools make up the CFOC’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC).
The Trustees of the Community Foundation for Oceana County created the YAC in response to the statewide challenge issued by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation over 20 years ago. In order to meet the requirements of the challenge, a new fund was created to address youth issues, and the YAC board was established to make grant recommendations. The Kellogg Foundation’s fruitful idea was to create strong, ongoing philanthropic training programs for youth across the state. Over 86 YACs exist today in Michigan.
Guided by CFOC adult advisors, Oceana’s YAC examines real problems affecting the students’ peers and communities in which they reside. It also helps set policy and guides the grant distribution to worthy nonprofits out of the youth endowment fund valued at over $550,000.
“Kellogg’s goal – and we are so happy to lead it here in Oceana — is to help young people learn generosity and leadership,” said CFOC executive director Tammy Carey. “This special ‘youth as grant makers project’ is building a stronger and more caring Oceana. This impressive group of students, chosen by their peers, serves as Oceana County’s panel of local experts regarding youth issues.”
Oceana’s YAC meets monthly to learn about youth issues in Oceana County. Twice a year it evaluates grant proposals for youth projects and determines which projects it will recommend for funding. “For the 2015-16 school year the YAC decided to make mental health awareness and suicide prevention their top priority,” said Abby Cook, YAC President and Hart High School senior. “We have hosted Compliment Day in area schools for the past 4 years as an anti-bullying and suicide prevention outreach activity. This year, we decided we wanted to do more, especially after hearing about the Be Nice program,” explained Cook.
The YAC decided to support the Mental Health Foundation of West MI to help bring the Be Nice program to Pentwater Schools to help students process the information of the suicide of a Pentwater student.
“Mental illness is one of those things that people don’t talk about but the Mental Health Foundation’s programs help students think about mental illness and talk about it,” said Pentwater Schools superintendent Mary Marshall. “Growing up is complicated. It’s really complicated, even in the best of families,” added Marshall.
Other youth projects receiving support from Oceana’s Youth Advisory Council in 2015 are:
- Big Brothers/Big Sisters (Lunch Buddies mentoring program)
- District Health Department #10 (equipment for immunizations in new adolescant health center)
- (6) Food Banks
- Fountain Hill Center (parent coaching program)
- Harbor House of Hart (creative arts & life skills program for girls)
- Junior Achievement (provide New Era Christian School students with work skills program)
- The Ladder Community Center (equipment for activities in new community center)
- Oceana Good Fellows (Christmas giving program)
- Oceana Jail Ministry (Angel Tree project providing Christmas gifts to children of jailed inmates)
- Roy’s Kids (Christmas giving program)
- Shelby Schools Aspire Program (enable students to attend Spring Break Camp)
Since the Youth Fund was established in 1994, CFOC’s YAC has supported 387 grants to local youth projects totaling just under $400,000.