Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation seeks input from all county youth to guide grantmaking decisions

The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) Youth Council recently wrapped up its 2020 Youth Needs Assessment, which will identify disparities and other issues affecting Washtenaw County teens and guide the Youth Council's grantmaking work in 2021.


The Youth Council is made up of 25 high school students from across Washtenaw County, who distribute over $80,000 annually in AAACF grants to local nonprofits that serve youth ages 5-18. The council creates grants for nonprofits to apply for and reviews applications to choose grant winners.


Every three years, the council conducts a needs assessment to determine the concerns and needs of the community's youth. Prior to 2019, Youth Council was only open to high school students attending Ann Arbor Public Schools or private schools, but this year it opened up eligibility to any high school student living in Washtenaw County. Due to this expansion in 2019, the needs assessment was postponed to 2020.


The assessment received over 1,000 responses from youth.


"One of our main goals was making sure we got representation from key demographics all over the county," says Matt Ruud, co-chair of Youth Council.


Another key consideration for the council while creating the survey was understanding COVID-19's effects on youth. Maryellen Ferro, Youth Council advisor, says many questions were related to the pandemic's impact and those results will help the council understand what is currently affecting young people.


Results from the 2020 Youth Needs Assessment will be available by the end of the year, and the grant applications will be open to nonprofits the first week in January. The council's grant winners will be announced by early April.


Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at


Photos courtesy of AAACF Youth Council.

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