The Lake Jump board of trustees has chosen the Mason County Youth Advisory Council as its beneficiary this year.

The Youth Advisory Council — a project of the Community Foundation for Mason County, composed of Mason County student representatives and supported by adult advisors — “engages young people in solving real problems affecting their communities and peers,” according to the MYCAC website. The group makes grant recommendations to the community foundation.

Rich and Beth Kirby, both Ludington Area Schools teachers, are the advisors for MCYAC and they currently work with 21 student members who represent schools across Mason County.

“We are super excited to have been chosen to be the beneficiary of this year’s Lake Jump,” Beth Kirby said.

Linda O’Brien, Lake Jump board president, stated that the board is excited to have MCYAC as this year’s beneficiary and that they are looking forward to working with them this year.

“We wish the MCYAC all the best to raise their goal of $20,000 with Lake Jump 2023,” she said.

Beth Kirby stated that the group’s mission is two-fold.

“First we are creating a public service announcement on teen stress to be shared on social media, in our local schools and during the summer months at the local AMC movie theater. … We had a retreat in November where we planned out the script. We plan to make our PSA in the spring,” she said. “We also want to grow our endowment so we can grant more money to local teachers and organizations.”

The MCYAC has two grant rounds each year — one for teacher applicants in the fall, and one for local organizations in the spring. The Kirbys are hoping to draw applicants “whose focus will help local youth, especially in the areas of teen stress, mental health and substance abuse.”

The idea sprang from a needs assessment of local teens which determined teen stress, mental health and substance abuse to be the three most high-priority needs.

The council meets during the school year to discuss different issues facing youth in the area and then they provide feedback and recommendations for grant ideas to the community foundation.

According to the MCYAC website, YACs can be traced back to 1989, when the W.K. Kellogg Foundation “conceived an idea to help seed community foundations throughout Michigan if the local foundation agreed to establish a permanent youth fund and a Youth Advisory Council.”

The goal was to foster philanthropic training for youths. After a few years, more than 86 YACs were formed across Michigan, each working to “help young people learn generosity and leadership and, at the same time, build stronger and more caring communities,” the website states.

Since MCYAC’s inaugural year, it has given out more than 350 grants to fund local youth-based projects, which have totaled over $270,000.

Current eighth- through eleventh-grade students who are interested in joining MCYAC can fill out an application on the Community Foundation for Mason County’s website, www.mason-foundation.org/youth-advisory-council.

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