More than 250 youth and advisors from approximately 50 Youth Advisory Councils in Michigan and 4 other states gathered at this year’s Youth Grantmakers Summer Leadership Conference at Michigan State University to learn about youth philanthropy and grantmaking last month. With the theme “A Second Look: Seeing Challenges as Opportunities,” participants were forced to look within their communities and their own lives to see how they could transform hardships into opportunities for personal growth and community improvement.
A new set of best practices for individuals was rolled out at this year’s conference for YAC members. The best practices are meant to complement the existing set of best practices for YACs by telling each member what they individually should be doing in order to help make their YAC successful.
Traditional breakout sessions were also offered during the conference that focused on the operational aspects of YACs. Participants were able to attend two sessions each, with topics ranging from diversity and technology to fund development and community service.
Advisors took part in a Web 2.0 training to discuss how social networking sites could be used to help YACs communicate, both internally and externally. Separate trainings were also held to explore cross generational differences and help YAC advisors share ideas about what they’re doing with their groups and brainstorm ways to improve their current practices.
Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron – a spoken word duo of The Kinetic Affect – performed at the conference and discussed the challenges they had overcome in their lives. After their inspirational performance, both stayed to discuss spoken word – a performance in which a poem is performed for an audience – and to hear from youth interested in spoken word.
Sean Forbes, founder of the Deaf Performing Artists Network, also performed at this year’s conference. Forbes, deaf himself, founded D-PAN as a way to connect deaf performers and to start his current work of creating better ways for the deaf to experience music. Everyone at the conference was inspired by Sean’s passion for improving the lives of others.
Before leaving the conference, participants were urged to find their own passion and to start taking action in their own communities. Youth and advisors alike at the conference participated in a one-hour open space session to discuss the issues they most care about. Topics ranged for gender identity and religious discrimination to basic kindness and youth philanthropy. Participants shared many thoughts and experiences on the wide range of topics and several people commented it was the best open space they had ever participated in.
-Learn more about this conference by reading the Yackety-YAC newsletter.