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Youth Philanthropy

Learning to Give

Learning to Give logo with a heart that looks like an apple

Learning to Give (LTG), a program of CMF, serves youth leaders, philanthropic organizations, educators, families and other partners to educate, equip and empower all Michigan youth with philanthropy knowledge, skills and experience. 

LTG shares one-of-a-kind, readily accessible resources to help our CMF community nurture all young people as philanthropic citizens now and potential philanthropy leaders tomorrow.

Created in collaboration with colleagues in the field of philanthropy, The History of U.S. Philanthropy Timeline tells our collective story of diverse people taking action to fight injustice and make a better world. Through this timeline, young people learn about philanthropy through the causes they care about in the past, present, and future. The embedded questions and activities help youth see we all have something to give.  

Interested in exploring how your organization can serve as champions for or influencers of youth philanthropy? Connect with Betsy Peterson, director, Learning to Give. 

Visit the LTG website regularly to access current and responsive resources supporting youth philanthropy.

Youth Advisory Councils

Across Michigan, more than 1,500 young people serve on 86 youth grantmaking committees – youth advisory councils (YACS). Each YAC is a subcommittee of a community foundation with a permanently endowed youth fund. They are composed of youth members ages 12-21 who engage in leadership development and community service and review and allocate grant dollars to local nonprofits' efforts affecting youth. In total Michigan YACs’ endowment fund assets exceed $55 million. 

HISTORY OF YACs in Michigan

Over 20 years ago, in efforts to increase the giving capacity of community foundations and to engage youth in the grantmaking process, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation sponsored a Youth Challenge for Community Foundations to grow youth endowment funds. These endowment funds were to be used exclusively for grants allocated by youth advisory committees for local nonprofits' efforts affecting youth.

Highlights from the latest edition of the YAC Databook: 

More than $43.8 million in total grant dollars have been given by YACs in Michigan since 1989. 

In the YAC Databook, you’ll see how ‘our youth philanthropists who power Youth Action Committees/Councils (YACs) across the state have leaned into strengthening their roles as leaders of today and for the future'.


Highlights and Innovations from YACs

Our YAC is in the process of gathering data from a needs assessment written and developed 100% from their perspective. Data gathered will inform grantmaking and service decisions moving forward. Also, in 2021, we conducted a strategic planning session to focus our projects and connect more strongly to our by-laws and mission. We are additionally working to strengthen our cooperation and work with the Board of Trustees; members attend meetings bi-monthly, and we have put together a proposal to expand that partnership further. 

During this past year our YAC restructured the youth leadership to include more defined leadership roles. This has given the YAC members a stronger voice in what our YAC accomplishes. 

“Our YAC is really interested in defining roles of our executive team as well as how to create more engagement amongst themselves.” 

A fall workshop was led by a former YACer, who also served on MCFYP. The youth worked as teams to identify issues at their respective schools and brainstorm viable solutions.

Youth sitting around a table at a planning retreat

Michigan Community Foundation’s Youth Project (MCFYP) 

The Michigan Community Foundation's Youth Project (MCFYP) is the statewide youth philanthropy council for Michigan, made up of youth who currently are or have recently served on a Youth Advisory Council (YAC). Being a part of the MCFYP committee allows youth to take a very active role in service and grantmaking through the conference and regional trainings. It also allows them to help develop youth philanthropy throughout the state, nation and even the world. CMF provides support through programming and resources to MCFYP. The MCFYP Committee, which is composed of youth and YAC advisors from around the state, leads the development, design and facilitation of youth programming at CMF, including the annual Youth Grantmakers Summer Leadership Conference. 

Group photo of attendees of 2022 Youth Conference in a large auditorium style room