The Skillman Foundation Launches President’s Youth Council
To further engage youth voice in its grantmaking and change-making strategies, The Skillman Foundation launched its first-ever President’s Youth Council.
Council members work with the foundation leadership to discuss issues that are important to them and advise how the foundation and its partners can better support the needs and aspirations of Detroit youth. Meetings will take place two-to-three times per year with additional smaller group meetings to focus on strategy areas.
“You cannot be a champion for Detroit youth without bringing youth voice into the fold,” David R. McGhee, the foundation’s vice president of organizational excellence and impact, said. “While we solicit youth input in many ways, the council serves as a formal structure to do so.”
The foundation asked the community-at-large for member nominations last September. It received over 170 nominations from families, educators, nonprofit leaders and other youth across the city.
“The breadth of nominations we received speaks volumes of the passion Detroit youth possesses for their peers and their city,” McGhee said. “Selecting the final members was a challenge, but we are confident that the 13 members will bring unique and innovative ideas for our work.”
The council is comprised of 13 Detroit residents between the ages of 12 and 21. Members hail from all over Detroit and from a variety of backgrounds. The members will serve two-year terms on the council.
Council members will work with the foundation’s executive leadership team and staff on strategy and will be integral in onboarding its new CEO.
“Our new CEO will work with the Youth Council starting on day one,” McGhee said. “They will be vital as an example of our commitment to youth voice to whomever leads the foundation in the future.”
Each member has specific areas of the foundation’s strategies that they hope to work on, including access to quality education, youth and the justice system, employment, mental health, financial literacy and more.
Members will serve two-year terms on the council.
“While we are thrilled to offer these young people a unique leadership opportunity, this is more than just a résumé builder,” McGhee said. “These young people have the opportunity to influence real change in Detroit.”
Council members are ready for the responsibility of serving both their city and their peers.
“Serving on The Skillman Foundation’s President’s Youth Council will give me the opportunity to work with other kids who see challenges like I do and want to fix them along with the support of an organization that can guide us,” said council member Mathias Neloms, age 12.