Grand Rapids Community Foundation and its Board of Trustees benefit greatly from youth trustees who share their knowledge and insights. These local high school students, selected from the Youth Grant Committee, not only contribute their knowledge and insights but also hold full voting privileges for their one-year term after spending a year as a trustee in training.
Youth Trustees have been serving on the Community Foundation’s Board since 2003. The various students have all brought firsthand experiences and intimate knowledge of the challenges faced by their peers and been advocates for initiatives and programs that specifically target issues affecting youth.
By purposefully including student voices and bridging the gap between different age groups, the Community Foundation benefits from collective wisdom and experiences of both older and younger generations. This collaboration enriches all Board conversations – not just those relevant to youth-serving projects. And it allows for the transfer of knowledge and skills, ensuring a sustainable legacy of philanthropy that adapts and evolves with changing times.
Meet Alexandria Smith
Alexandria Smith, a Grandville High School student, will begin her term as Youth Trustee for the 2023 – 2024 year. She replaces outgoing Youth Trustee Samantha Rivera, another Grandville High School student.
After hearing about the opportunity from family and friends, Alexandria applied and became a member of the YGC three years ago. She was interested in joining YGC because of the opportunities to make an impact in community while also learning and gaining knowledge. She is eager to make meaningful impact and inspire other students – especially young Black girls. “I want them to see and hear about me, and it sets a spark in them to go and apply for YGC and other committees like it. I know so many people with different backgrounds and experiences that I want them to feel assured that someone who knows about them represents them,” said Alexandria.
Alexandria has demonstrated her strong leadership qualities already through her volunteerism on YGC. “Her ability to actively listen and make sure people are heard is one of her greatest strengths,” says Chantal Pasag, program officer and YGC staff liaison. “She is considerate and very aware of others’ feelings, which has been beneficial during our grant-making conversations, executive team nominee discussions, and in welcoming and interviewing new YGC applicants.”
Alexandria’s volunteerism and community involvement does not stop with the Community Foundation. She has completed ASL 1,2, and 3 and is currently learning Spanish. She is an active member of The Gracefuls Dance Troupe, through Madison Square Church. She volunteers to teach Sunday School at Madison Square Church and at school she participates on the dance team and performs in school musicals. And she is working at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital as a Nutritionist Representative.
Next generation of philanthropy
Grand Rapids Community Foundation is passionate about addressing our community’s most critical needs today and in perpetuity. By involving youth in philanthropic decision-making, the Community Foundation is investing in the future. Youth Trustees, as leaders and changemakers, are carrying forward the values and lessons learned and inspiring communities. Join us in thanking the past, present and future youth voices who are shaping the Community Foundation’s work!