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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.