Genesee County’s most dedicated volunteers can often be found in its high schools.

Amidst the hustle of homework and extracurricular activities, local students take on impactful roles by recommending grants, conducting site visits to community-based organizations, engaging in community service initiatives, and learning about community needs and philanthropy.

The Youth Advisory Committees (YAC) of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint—representing Clio, Countywide, Grand Blanc, and the Southern Lakes area —are vital in evaluating funding requests and recommending grants for youth-centric programs in Genesee County.

Youth Advisory Committees are advised and coordinated by Program Officer Chakara Wheeler. Wheeler says that YAC is a way for students to learn about philanthropy early on.

“Members are planting the seeds of philanthropy as youth grantmakers,” Wheeler said. “As a member of the community they serve, YACers can be the difference they wish to see. They can implement change by funding programs and activities that align with their strategic priorities, partner with an organization, and much more.”

Since their inception in 1992, the YACs have disbursed over $1.5 million to support various community projects. For members like Sir Johnson of Beecher High School, grantmaking is a major highlight of the work.

“The reason why I like to serve on the YAC is because I get to see the progress and actually be part of the progress of the communities that I’m in,” Johnson said. “I want to be more involved in the community, and this is one of the great ways to do it.”

The Countywide Youth Advisory Committee met at the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library in December.

This year, YAC members volunteered their time in many ways. In January, members of the Grand Blanc YAC volunteered at the FISH Incorporated Grand Blanc Chapter, where they unpacked and restocked the food pantry.

For Maddie Armfield of Grand Blanc High School, volunteering at organizations like FISH is especially rewarding.

“When I volunteer, I know that I’m part of something bigger than myself,” Armfield said. “You get to meet new people, and we’re able to benefit the community.”

Grand Blanc YAC members volunteered at the FISH Incorporated Grand Blanc Chapter in January.

Students across the county also conducted a survey to help determine funding priorities for youth programs for the next three years. Members from the committees gathered 117 results, which revealed information such as the top five issues that have the greatest impact on youth and the top five types of youth-related programs and activities that are most helpful to youth in the community.

YAC’s impact extends beyond grantmaking and fosters a sense of teamwork among its members. Jia Patel, Grand Blanc Chair and a member of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint’s Board of Trustees, notes the tight bond forged within the group.

“I think we’ve all grown to be really close,” Patel said. “The most meaningful part of YAC has been not only interacting with people outside of YAC, but our own members within the committee.”

Grand Blanc YAC members attend an April meeting and celebrate graduating seniors in the group.

Membership is open to all Genesee County high school students interested in community service and willing to volunteer their time.

Learn more about the Community Foundation of Greater Flint’s Youth Advisory Committees and how to get involved here.