Local Youth Celebrate 25 Years of Philanthropy
“YAC gave me the confidence as a young person to feel like my voice and my actions could have a real impact on the community,” said Olivia Rau, Beal City High School graduate and former Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) member. Several alumni expressed similar feelings in a recent video created by MacTV to celebrate 25 years of youth philanthropy in Isabella County.
In the early 90s, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation challenged community foundations throughout the state to create a permanent training ground in the voluntary responsibilities of citizenship for Michigan’s youth and to engage adolescents in the grant-making process. “The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation accepted the challenge, and the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) was formed,” reported Bob Wheeler, Community Foundation Trustee and former YAC advisor, during a recent breakfast event.
Brian Rush was one of the first students asked to serve on the Youth Advisory Committee. In 1992, he was a senior at Sacred Heart Academy. Twenty-five years later, he proudly serves as a Community Foundation Trustee. “The Youth Advisory Committee provides young people with the opportunity to experience philanthropy at an early age,” Rush said. “With some adult support, youth learn about community needs, fundraising, volunteering, grantmaking, and leadership during their time on YAC.”
The Youth Advisory Committee is comprised of students, grades 7-12, from schools throughout Isabella County. “The biggest lesson was learning to work with a diverse group of people—different schools, different ages, and with adults—coming together to make decisions as a board,” said Jena Eisenberger, Shepherd High School graduate and former YAC member.
With a financial match of $125,000 from the Kellogg Foundation in 1993, the Community Foundation started a permanent endowment fund focused on youth. The YAC is responsible for raising funds to grow the Youth Fund and for reviewing all grant requests related to youth projects and programming. Over the years, the YAC has advised the Community Foundation Board to award nearly 400 grants totaling more than $555,000.
Erica Davis, Mt. Pleasant High School graduate and current YAC member, put forth a challenge to the community last week during the Community Foundation’s annual breakfast. “Members of the YAC are going to be doing a social media campaign to raise additional funds for the Kellogg Youth Fund between now and #GivingTuesday. Will you help us spread the word?” Davis asked the crowd. “We’d like to raise $25,000 to add to the Kellogg Youth Fund to celebrate 25 years of youth philanthropy.” Donations to the Youth Fund may be mailed to the Community Foundation at PO Box 1283, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48804, or can be made online.