Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation seeks new Youth Council members

The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation’s (AAACF) Youth Council is accepting new member applications through Aug. 29th.

Youth Council is composed of 25 high school students who are committed to philanthropy, service, and making a positive impact on their community. Its members participate in volunteer projects and leadership training, and they work together to award over $85,000 in grants to projects, service providers, and youth programs around Washtenaw County each year. The council primarily meets one to two Sundays per month for two to eight hours.

This past year, students worked to fund academic support services, college preparedness programs, and programs that address mental health and anti-discrimination education on racism and the LGBTQIA+ community. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County, The Neutral Zone, and Planned Parenthood of Michigan are just a few of the programs Youth Council has recently funded.

The program is open to Washtenaw County high school students who are going into 9th, 10th, or 11th grade, and are interested in making their community a better place. Council membership is a year-long commitment at minimum, but many students elect to continue with the program through their senior year. No prior experience in philanthropy is needed to apply. Youth Council is looking for more representation from the Ypsilanti, Whitmore Lake, Manchester, and Lincoln Consolidated School District areas, but the council is open to all students who meet the program’s requirements. 

“We are looking for a diversity of experiences and personal narratives on the council so that we have representation from all areas, and our decision-making processes and grant-making can be well informed,” says Youth Council Advisor Maryellen Ferro.

Besides grantmaking and philanthropy, Youth Council teaches students many valuable skills. They learn how to be leaders, comprehend the importance of community issues, and engage in thoughtful and respectful conversations with one another. Students take what they learned during their time in the program to higher educational and professional settings. Alumni have gone on to schools including Michigan State University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and Stanford University. 

“Young people have such a fresh perspective on life,” says Ferro. “They’re so open to change and are just so excited about what the world has to offer and what they can do to make a positive impact. That just makes me passionate about coming to my job every day.”

To apply, learn more about this program, and see a sample calendar, visit Youth Council’s website or contact Maryellen Ferro.

Maria Patton is a lifelong Ypsilanti resident. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan, working towards a bachelor’s degree in communications and media. You can find more of her work in The Michigan Daily, where she is a columnist for the Michigan in Color section. She can be reached at

Photo courtesy of AAACF.