With the new school year in full swing, we at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation have been reflecting on the students in our community. A core component of our work surrounds supporting programs and services geared toward Northwest Ottawa County’s youth. We are fortunate to fund purposeful and strategic initiatives that support students at every step of their educational journey, and this commitment has been a priority of the foundation throughout its 50 years of service.
As a person who grew up and returned to Grand Haven, I can speak to this firsthand. I was afforded the incredible opportunity to help establish the foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) when I was a teen. This project was an initiative started in 1989 with the intent of making young people more aware of philanthropy and the large role volunteers play within a community, thanks to a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since its inception, more than 250 students have served on the Grand Haven Area Youth Advisory Council and collectively have granted over $2.1 million to programs and services geared toward the most pressing issues our youth believe they and their peers face.