The Hillsdale County Community Foundation is accepting applications for Youth Opportunities Unlimited Throughout Hillsdale — YOUTH — grant applications. HCCF offers the grants every April and November to organizations that serve youth in Hillsdale County.
Applicants must be part of an educational or governmental organization or a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and youth must be involved in the planning and application process.
“We do make exceptions,” Director of Community Engagement Amber Yoder said. “If a kindergarten teacher comes to us or something like that, then obviously the kids probably aren’t going to participate in writing the application or planning the project.”
Applicants must call Yoder before applying to verify that they are eligible for a grant. As of Monday, Yoder said she had received calls from three organizations.
“It doesn’t mean nobody will be calling me on Friday,” Yoder said. “And just because I heard from them doesn’t mean they’ll actually complete the application.”
Every three years, HCCF surveys 7th, 9th, and 11th graders to identify what young adults see as issues in their communities.
“What YOUTH really want to see is a project that’s going to address an issue that was identified on our most recent needs assessment,” Yoder said.
The most recent needs assessment was completed in 2015. The most important issues identified were bullying, the pressure to succeed, low self-esteem, depression, and not fitting in. The needs assessment also identifies what programs or activities are most wanted. The top five activities identified were non school-based competitive sports, outdoor experiences, real life learning experiences, career exploration, and art-related activities.
“A lot of times young people also want to see funding for activities that are extracurricular but not necessarily school-related,” Yoder said. “You always hear that there’s nothing to do.”
The number of grants that are awarded depends on the dollar amount requested by each organization. In November, YOUTH received just two grant applications and funded both organizations. In previous years, as many as six organizations have received grants.
This past November, YOUTH gave its most recent grant to the juvenile court system for mental health assessments.
“We thought that really would encompass a lot of those needs identified on our survey,” Yoder said.
Hillsdale College’s GOAL Buddy program also received a grant in November to fund its 2017 activities. The Buddy program creates social events for special needs individuals in Hillsdale County to get together with Hillsdale College students.
YOUTH will accept applications until 4 p.m. Monday, April 3. Interested organizations should visit www.abouthccf.org/youth to apply or call 517 – 439-5101 for more information.