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YAC talks Spring Youth Fund cycle

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Youth Advisory Council members, all local middle and high school students, met in the KCF office, in Hancock on Wednesday, to discuss the upcoming Kellogg Youth Fund’s spring scholarship and grants applications and fund distribution process.

HANCOCK — The Keweenaw Community Foundation’s Kellogg Youth Fund’s Spring 2024 scholarship and grants application period is set to close on March 16.

When the Kellogg Youth Foundation established the fund, contributing $500,000, the foundation issued a challenge to the Keweenaw Community Foundation: that it be managed for — and by — youth in Houghton and Keweenaw counties. In response, KCF trustees created the Youth Advisory Council in 1992. Because the grant applications are from nonprofit organizations directly related to youth, YAC trustees are involved in major decision making.

When the application window has closed, YAC members will review the applications, then make recommendations to the KCF Board as to which applications to fund. That was a topic of discussion at the regular February meeting of KCF’s Youth Advisory Council on Wednesday.

YAC President, Alethea Oakley, a senior at Houghton High School, said $13,000 is available for the spring grant round. She explained the selection process to new YAC board members who had not participated in previous grant rounds.

“For those of you who haven’t been here for past granting, we usually have printouts of the grant applications and we also usually have a spreadsheet summarizing the organizations, how much (money) they requested, and what they’re going to use it for,” Alethea said. “We go through them and discuss them.”

The next step in the process, Alethea explained, is to decide if certain applications stand out. Does the council want to fund it fully? Is money available to fully fund it? Each one is then discussed in detail.

Alethea said that after the deadline YAC will meet on March 20 to review the applications, hold discussions and make initial decisions. At a follow-up meeting on March 27, the recommendations from the March 20 meeting will be finalized. The KCF board will then record the recommendations.

KCF program manager Sara Fletcher, who was present at the meeting, told the YAC Board that since fall 2022, 32 grants were awarded, based on YAC’s recommendations, totaling $57,000 to projects and initiatives benefiting youth in Houghton and Keweenaw counties. Some organizations will also request volunteer assistance from YAC with events.

“Certainly, if you find something that your funding and decided you really want help with that, we’d reach out,” Fletcher said.

For example, one organization she knows will request assistance is the Western U.P. Pollution Center Network, with Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

CSEO works with stakeholders locally, statewide and across the upper Great Lakes region to facilitate community outreach programs, K-12 educational programming and professional development for teachers to expand the parameters of the classroom walls to forest canopies and lake shores.

“The project itself is putting air censors around the western U.P.,” Fletcher said, “and he wants youth to help with putting them up.”

The data will be used by local schools for various science projects.

Alethea commented on YAC’s community involvement. The council’s mission, she told the new members, is to bridge gaps between communities in Houghton and Keweenaw counties by engaging youth in philanthropy while developing youth leadership skills.

“In here, that looks like us working together to create service projects,” Alethea said.“It’s nice to be involved in the community.”

Involvement, she said, includes volunteerism and seeking ways to support to the local community.

“A lot of that is through our granting, which will be happening soon once all grants have been finalized,” she said.

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