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Education Service Leader - The Ionia County Youth Advisory Council
Education Service Leader Award: honors schools, colleges, universities and other organizations that support youth making a difference in their communities.
The Ionia County Youth Advisory Council of the Ionia County Community Foundation has a goal to make a lasting impact on their community. They work towards this goal by leading by example and creating opportunities for their peers to serve. This engagement of youth began as a result of a collaboration between W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Council of Michigan Foundations in 1988. It was their intent to get young people involved in philanthropy and volunteerism and have youth be an integral part of transforming their communities. The Ionia YAC is doing an incredible job of fulfilling their mission. One of the most impressive qualities about this group is that it is entirely youth led. During their monthly meetings, students from Ionia, Belding, Portland, Lakewood, Pewamo-Westphalia, Lowell, and Saranac gather and work to become better leaders and more productive members of society. These ninth to twelfth grade students plan and implement a very impressive number of service projects throughout the year. In addition to their service, they also award grants to area nonprofits to make a difference. The YAC members have created an annual event called Strive 2 Arrive Alive Teen Driver Safety Conference with over 600 teenagers attending. This signature initiative has grown to be a full year effort and the Ionia YAC has been recognized nationally for their efforts. “This type of community service exemplifies how youth can make a difference and have a lasting impact in the lives of others,” said Jason P. Mellema, Superintendent of Ionia County school district.