We have all heard of school student council, but at United Way of San Luis Obispo County we have a program where students can help influence the entire county, not just their school. It is called Youth Board, and it is a unique volunteer experience for local high school students.
Every school year United Way selects 35 high school aged students to serve as a United Way Board of Directors and give them the opportunity to make a direct impact on their peers by addressing the needs of their community and awarding grants to local organizations. Each month, students from across the county meet to learn about SLO County and discuss community issues.
At the end of the year, the board awards three $1,000 grants to local organizations that are making a difference. United Way Youth Board accepts applications for $1,000 grant awards to local groups that have created projects having a positive impact on youth (up to age 19). All applications are peer reviewed by members of the Youth Board, our group of high school students seeking to increase philanthropy and leadership in San Luis Obispo County youth, and improve programs to better serve our community. 2015 grants were awarded to Restorative Partners’ Juvenile Hall Project, Lewis Middle School 7th Grade Envirotech Class/One Cool Earth, and Transitions-Mental Health Association.
Members of the Youth Board represent the youth of the community, connect with community leaders and provide feedback about youth issues. They also participate in United Way projects and events, run fundraising campaigns, and learn about the community and other local nonprofit organizations.
Each year the Board elects members to hold various executive positions on the board. They elect a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and a Director at Large. The president of the year’s board is AnnaSara Bridgeford, a senior at San Luis Obispo high school. AnnaSara has been a part of Youth Board since she was a Freshman. AnnaSara’s older brother JohnAugust was the very first Youth Board President, and seeing his positive experience made her want to be a part of the program as well. When asked what her favorite part of being on the Board is, AnnaSara said “I am grateful for the voice that Youth Board has provided me with. They have helped me realize that even though I am young my ideas and opinions have value and the power to create the change I want to see in my community.” She also wants students that might be interested in doing the Youth Board to know “If you have interest in voicing your ideas and collaborating to figure out how to positively impact our community then I highly advise you to apply to join the board. It is a great opportunity and looks fabulous on college apps!”
United Way of San Luis Obispo is now accepting applications for the 2015-16 Youth Board. The deadline for applications is September 11. Participating students are required to commit to at least one full term (September through May), and may miss up to six meetings. For more information on Youth Board or to download an application visit our website.
Written by: Lindsey Rapone