July 2022 Blog

July Blog | Youth are our Future

Community foundations are more than awarding grants to nonprofits and giving out scholarships, we are much more….

Foundations also serve as conveners for vital community meeting, help build teams of organizations to solve problems, and serve nonprofits. Foundations are always looking at the future needs of the community and the quality of life of our citizens.

The next generation are the most critical and most affected stakeholders when talking about our future.  Our Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) are encouraged to become volunteers and even donors from an early age.  It also teaches the importance of generosity, being good stewards, and serving in our Community.

Students in 9th through 12th grade have the opportunity to join this group that encourages student leadership and engaging young people in decision-making.  It encourages youth involvement in philanthropy, and provides ways for local young people to act on issues and challenges that are important to them.

The Youth Needs Assessment!

In the spring of 2022, the Cadillac Youth did a Youth Needs Assessment, the top issues were quite alarming to the Youth Committee.  Some of the top issue our youth are facing today; feeling unsafe at school, drug use, stress from school, and mental health issues.

After reviewing the survey; they immediately discussed meeting during the summer to look at these issues and have a plan to addresses at the beginning of the school year (September).  The students will pick 3 to 4 priority issues facing youth today to address. Their plan is to work in collaboration with school officials to make a positive impact on some of the top concerns.  I have no doubt the power of these students can make a difference. 

The issues…

We are currently facing a mental health crisis. More young people than ever are experiencing mental health difficulties. This can affect all areas of their life: home, school, friendships and relationships. There remains a stigma surrounding mental health and it is important that young people understand where to go for support.  The rise of technology has had a significant impact on the lives of young people.

Technology can be an amazing tool, however, there are also concerns about how it impacts self-perception and privacy. While social media can be praised as a way to connect with both family and friends during difficult times, it is not without its drawbacks.

Socializing with and having the respect of your peers is important to young people. ‘Peer pressure’ relates to the role that others can have in influencing how an individual acts. Many children may think that they are missing out or not fitting in if they don’t go along with the crowd, or the strongest voice in that crowd. This desire to seek approval may encourage them to reinforce positive habits. However, it may also encourage them to partake in risk taking behavior such as drinking alcohol and drugs.

Youth are living in uncertain times: the global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everybody’s lives differently, but the take away here is that it has impacted everybody. Uncertainty over the future is a major concern for many young people.

This is a significant time working with youth, working together to understanding of what pressures youth face today, and ‘fully understand’ what they are experiencing-then finding the best way to support whatever challenges they face in the best way possible.

Lastly, the Youth Needs Assessment is done every 3 years; YAC students are planning to take a deep dive into a few of the top issues this fall, by asking for details of (for instance) “feeling unsafe at school” unsafe from bulling, shootings, etc.

I am very proud to stand with the students as they address these issues and find ways to support their fellow students.

The Youth Needs Assessment was presented to Rotary Club of Cadillac, Cadillac Area Public Schools Board, Human Service Leadership Council, and the Cadillac Area Health Coalition.  If your organization would like a presentation of the survey, please feel free to contact me.

To view the complete survey, click here cadillacfoundation.org/Youth Advisory Committee 

Happy July!  Doreen