What is the Youth Advisory Council?

The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is a group of high school students from our coverage area of counties.  They are empowered to assess local youth needs, review grant applications and advise the Community Foundation on youth grant awards.  They use the power of a Youth Endowment, which generates approximately $15,000 in spending for the needs of young people.  This endowment was raised with a matching grant from the Kellogg Foundation and the support of hundreds of individual donors in our communities.

YAC grants have brought enrichment programs to our schools, supported youth outreach in our communities and helped provide youth agencies with the resources they need to run programs. The group also assesses youth needs by designing and employing a needs assessment tool, participates in leadership training activities both through the foundation and by attending the state YAC conference and participates in local community service activities.  Membership in the YAC is an excellent training ground for leadership roles later in life.

Two former members, now in college, feel this way:

” I am a junior double major in Political Science and Organizational Communication, serving for the last year as the Western Student Associations’s Speaker of the Senate, and currently serving concurrent terms as Speaker and Vice President. I am active in College Republicans, and a Peer Educator for F.I.R.E. (Fighting Ignorance and Rape through Education) as well as several other campus organizations. Y.A.C. not only helped me develop leadership and teamwork skills, it has helped me be more confident. In my election as Speaker of the Senate, I relied on my experiences from my work with Y.A.C. My sophomore year at Western Michigan, I served as Philanthropy Chair for the Student Senate, a direct result of my experience and passion gained from Y.A.C. I am grateful that I was given this experience as a high school student when lots of college students strive to gain skills in their four years at college. I miss it very much!”

– Jasmine Marie Neldon

” As part of Y.A.C., I volunteered with many different organizations and attended the Michigan Council For Youth Philanthropy (MCFYP) leadership conference the summer before my senior year in high school. These experiences taught me how to communicate with strangers of all ages in order to work with people of different backgrounds to solve problems, plan events, and cooperate in new experiences. I am currently in my third year at Western Michigan with a double major in English Practical Writing and Journalism. I am president of my residence hall’s council, a member of three honors societies on campus, a volunteer for the Ready to Read Program in Kalamazoo, and a reporter for the campus paper, Western Herald. This semester, my new activity is as an intern at the Kalamazoo Gazette, where I interview sources, write and publish stories that thousands of people read. Prior to Y.A.C., I was shy and introverted. Without the communication and leadership skills learned through Y.A.C., I would lack the confidence and skills needed to fill the many roles I fill as a young adult, and I am beyond thankful for the opportunities.”

– Ambrosia Neldon