Amplifying Youth Voice in Michigan Philanthropy

In the spring of 2021, Learning to Give and the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) invited representatives from foundations and nonprofits across Michigan to serve on a Youth Philanthropy Task Force.

Our shared vision was to learn and support practices that engage youth as valued participants in philanthropy today and for the future. The group and the youth in their networks shared their valuable perspectives, experience and enthusiasm in the design and development of these resources. The task force met from March 2021 - March 2022 and together researched, interviewed, collaborated, and wrote the vision, best practices, and toolkits with guidelines for youth-led projects. These resources are freely available to facilitate connections with Michigan youth, CMF members, and nonprofit leaders.

We in philanthropy are putting equity and inclusion of all communities at the center of our practices. This means co-leading with youth of all ages and life experiences in the variety of ways to be philanthropic and the roles they can take today and in the future. CMF shares the guides linked below with tools to help your organization welcome youth voice and action with best practices for quality and meaningful expression of their time, talent, ties (network), testimony (speaking up), and treasure.

Three young men who are members of The Skillman Foundation's President's Youth Council describe what engaging youth can look like. The quotes come from a June 2022 blog, "Work with Gen Z to Change the World." The young men originally published this article in the op-ed of The Detroit News.

“Youth engagement is a two-way exchange of real value. We bring new sensibilities, skills, insights and approaches." - Mohammad Muntakim

"We are big thinkers looking to reimagine what’s possible. And that is just what this moment calls for." - Logan Newman 

“What does this look like? It looks like institutions, corporations and municipalities holding listening sessions with young people. It looks like creating youth advisory councils that offer young people opportunities to learn from mentors, share ideas and grow leadership skills. As we develop our relationships and knowledge, these advisory positions could serve as career pipelines.” - Jeremiah Steen

These are the powerful words of young people fully engaged in the work of a Michigan foundation. We can imagine the benefits to our communities and work when young people are deeply supported in using their time and creativity to lead and inspire change that advances the common good. Meaningful youth participation allows for more perspectives, different ideas, and better outcomes. The tools in this guide help us to be champions of youth and youth philanthropy. 

Why do we involve youth? Because we know they’ll make us better.  


View Guides


CMF Youth Philanthropy Task Force Members

Thanks to the Youth Philanthropy Task Force for their valuable perspective, experience and enthusiasm in the design and development of youth philanthropy resources and recommendations to expand philanthropy’s role in educating all youth in skills, knowledge, and behaviors of philanthropy.

  • Roula Adonakis – Bosch Community Fund  
  • Kim Baczewski – Charles J. Strosacker Foundation  
  • Lindsey Barrett – The Skillman Foundation  
  • Carolyn Bloodworth –Consumers Energy Foundation  
  • Tryphena Clarke – Ruth Mott Foundation  
  • Ginna Holmes –Michigan Community Service Commission  
  • Kyra Hudson – Former CMF Public Policy Fellow  
  • Elizabeth Mansfield – Fremont Area Community Foundation
  • Arielle Milton – Charles Stewart Mott Foundation  
  • Mark Navarro – Former CMF Communications Fellow  
  • Kate Porter – Michigan After-School Partnership  
  • D’Ann Rohrer – Michigan 4-H MSU Extension  
  • Amber Slichta – Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation  
  • Kari Pardoe – Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
  • Nellie Tsai – Michigan Nonprofit Association  
  • Erika VanDyke – Grand Rapids Community Foundation  
  • Terry Whitfield – The Skillman Foundation