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Youth for Flint: A Volunteer Force for Good

The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is host to three major youth development programs that are changing the landscape of Flint and Genesee County. These programs, called YouthQuest, TeenQuest, and the Summer Youth Initiative (SYI), collectively serve over 3,000 Flint-area youth each year, and are tied together by a strong thread of volunteerism. This huge contingent of youth are all impacting the community in different ways, providing everything from aid for the homeless to blight elimination.

For example, in YouthQuest, a free afterschool program for 2,000 K-12 students, participants have organized Youth Advisory Councils, whose main focus is to plan and launch student-driven volunteer initiatives. Council activities are currently taking place at 15 different school sites and many projects have been undertaken. Students have completed cancer awareness projects, provided aid to veterans, donated toys and food to local animal shelters, provided hygiene packages and blankets to the homeless, revitalized school infrastructure, volunteered at local children's hospitals, organized anti-bullying campaigns, and much more.

Older students in TeenQuest and SYI, programs that provide pre-employment training and paid work experiences to youth, are volunteering in ways that strengthen the city and build capacity for local nonprofit agencies. Just in 2015, students partnered with the city of Flint to eliminate blight in 8 neighborhoods that demonstrate the highest need. Furthermore, participants worked for various local agencies and service providers. For these organizations, teens have packaged food bundles, completed building maintenance, and stuffed backpacks for local schoolchildren. In total, the programs have combined for over 5,000 hours of service valued at nearly $112,000.

We believe that with additional funding we can increase the number and types of these projects, essentially mobilizing a volunteer force that impacts the community in important ways.

Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (April 2016)