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YAC completes Needs Assessment to Identify Top Issues for Area Youth

MARCH 31, 2020

The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is a grantmaking committee of the Community Foundation for Oceana County consisting of 41 high-schoolers from Oceana County school districts.  Following Council of Michigan Foundation’s best practices, the Council is tasked with conducting a County-wide needs assessment survey every three years.

A YAC sub-committee designed and administered the survey, with the support of school administration.  Over 650 youth responded to the survey, from 6th-12th grades, evenly spread across school districts and gender.  Respondents identified top issues from a list of 42 options affecting themselves and their peers. The top 5 issues stood well apart from the rest (ranked 1-5): stress from schoolwork, vaping use, bullying in school, depression/suicidal thoughts, and lack of self-esteem.

From a list of 15 options, students ranked types of programming that would be helpful to students.  The results revealed the following (ranked 1-5): competitive sports, arts, writing, or music focused activities, outdoor recreational programs, homework assistance and programs that help cope with daily stress.

Since gathering the results, the YAC has shared the information with the Community Foundation for Oceana County Trustees and the Shelby & Hart Rotary Clubs. When social distancing rules are lifted, they plan to present to local service clubs, human service organizations, school boards, and more!

Collectively, YAC members have determined priority areas for their activities and grantmaking.  The youth agreed that many of the issues that came to light through this survey were mental health related.  Others that were behavioral, such as vaping use, the group determined could be coping mechanisms teens turn to when dealing with stress and depression.  YAC members decided to prioritize mental health and positive coping mechanisms for stress for their 2020 work.

The Foundation envisions an Oceana where everyone has access to resources to thrive. It receives and manages contributions from citizens and organizations and has provided nearly $7 million in grants and scholarships back to the community since 1989. More information on YAC can be found here.