The GHACF Youth Advisory Council, or YAC for short, is a youth-led council made up of high schoolers from both Grand Haven and Spring Lake Schools. Members meet monthly to discuss topics youth face in today’s society. These topics include mental and emotional well-being, community and cultural well-being, and physical well-being. In addition to discussing and brainstorming solutions to said issues, the YAC holds semi-annual grant reviews where members review, deliberate, and vote on the funding of grant requests–while maintaining focus on the wellbeing of youth.
As a three-year member and the current Chair of YAC, I have had many experiences while on the Council. One of my most memorable grants that we have funded is the funding of the formation of the “Peer-Up” Club at Spring Lake High School. With this grant, the club was able to bring in a licensed therapist to teach lessons of empathy and the creation of a positive environment surrounding mental health in school to students who would continue teaching these lessons to the classes following them. I was honored to be a part of the creation of this continually growing club at SLHS and eventually become an active member. Now, this club continues its mission of de-stigmatizing mental health discussions in school and, with the help of an open-minded administration, has made great progress.
To me, YAC means opening opportunities for community involvement. YAC teaches students the importance of understanding their community and being involved in it. YAC teaches youth about philanthropy and the nonprofit sector and leads to other opportunities to give back. I am grateful for the opportunities YAC has granted me, and I will continue to serve my community for the betterment of its citizens.
Senior, Spring Lake High School
In 1989 the W. K. Kellogg Foundation challenged community foundations to grow community foundations in Michigan and to invest in programs for the benefit of young people. It was at that time that a youth council was formed in Grand Haven. To date, the GHACF YAC endowment is one of the largest in the state! Last year, $100,000 was granted to deserving programs by youth, serving youth. The Coopersville Area Community Foundation also has a Youth Advisory Council (CAYAC). Last year, CAYAC members granted $13,000 to programs making a difference in students’ lives.