With the first half of our Youth Advisory Council (YAC) year underway, the committee has adapted to a virtual meeting format while still working towards empowering and supporting youth in Northwest Ottawa County. We’ve used this time to pause and pivot our work, leaning into the data that shows what our youth need.

In mid-November, we partnered with Hand2Hand to feed over 8,000 students by assembling breakfast packs. Hand2Hand delivered trailers right to our parking lot and YACers (as well as Foundation staff!) were able to pick up the items and put the packs together in a socially distant way. Hand2Hand received funding from the Youth Fund, as well as the foundation’s Emergency Human Needs Fund and the Community Relief and Recovery Fund. In completing this service project—each student was responsible for assembling 250 packs—we were able to see our grant dollars in action!

In an effort to remain flexible to the needs of our community, we’ve adapted both our grantmaking calendar and strategy. Committee members became concerned with the mental health of their peers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and added an additional grant round focusing on Mental & Emotional Well-Being in our youth. This funding will target healthy promotion and wellness, prevention and early intervention, crisis intervention and suicide prevention, treatment, recovery, and peer support.

Proposals can be submitted for new and existing programs that focus on self-care, mindfulness, coping skills, the de-stigmatization of mental health, awareness, and peer support. The application can be found here and submissions will be accepted until January 17, 2021.

YAC will also be participating in a virtual QPR Training with Mosaic Counseling. This training will help our YACers recognize a crisis and warnings signs that someone may be contemplating suicide. Over 30% of youth in Ottawa County report being depressed, and 18.5% have seriously thought about suicide. Our committee members want to be part of the solution.

Looking forward, we’ll continue to highlight the work YAC is doing on their social media channels. Stay tuned for more exciting things to come!

Learn more about our Youth Advisory Council on our website and on Instagram.