We Believe in Battle Creek

We Believe: Safe and Innovative Youth Events

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee
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Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional):


Date Started

December 8th, 2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

The Youth Alliance Committee (YAC) is a youth led committee that annually grants funds to nonprofit organizations from an endowment fund started by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. YAC grants money to programs that fit within our community youth needs assessment. For years, YAC has been improving the lives of youth in Battle Creek (BC) by aiding in the funding of youth programs. To maximize our impact and evolve with our community, the committee has begun to use mobilize funds in the creation of safe and fun youth activities. These events are important in our community due to some variables that makes Battle Creek a unique community that can sometimes be unsafe for youth. The overall motivation for “Believe in Battle Creek” is that youth will take pride in BC and will come together to engage in safe activities while helping to promote local businesses and organizations.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Businesses are closing in Battle Creek at a high rate. As our town becomes more vacant, our youth are resorting to activities that are potentially harmful, such as violent activities and drug and alcohol abuse. Battle Creek struggles in marketing community assets to young people. We are trying to draw youth into safe and accepting environments. It is imperative to solve this issue to make Battle Creek a more livable place for young people.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The Youth Alliance Committee is a youth grantmaking committee of the Battle Creek Community Foundation. YAC consists of 35 high school students from different high schools in the area. As a committee, we break down boundaries and strip down stereotypes that exist between our schools. YAC conducts a youth needs assessment to form grantmaking focus areas every 3 years. This survey allows us to deploy our assets to make the most impact to improve the lives of youth in Battle Creek. One thing found from our most recent survey is this lack of safe youth activities in our town. YAC made a collective decision to try and create space in Battle Creek to make these events possible. Our goal is twofold: 1) to create safe, healthy and innovative events in Battle Creek at various for profit and nonprofit venues to give youth safe space to mingle and have fun and 2) A focus on helping support local businesses and organizations. We believe that by subsidizing and hosting free youth events at local businesses, we are highlighting these places as unique community assets that youth can access. YAC aims to provide these events throughout the city of Battle Creek and to create events that are fun.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

YAC aims to engage all Battle Creek youth to have a fun and safe time away from all of the negative activities that currently exist. At our “Ice Rink Skating Event” in December, 2017, we invited ALL youth 8th to 12th grade to come and ice skate for FREE. The entire arena was packed full of students with a line out the door to get in. There were more youth than ice skates available, which just shows the need for these types of events in our community. We were also able to highlight a great Battle Creek business, The Rink. Youth in our community are ready and willing to engage one another and to have a fun time somewhere that is safe. That night, the event prevented possible dangerous activity. These events are a necessity in our town to keep young people safe. These also helps form new friendships and an understanding of how amazing Battle Creek can really be.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

It is imperative to keep our young people safe and to make Battle Creek a more vibrant place for our youth. Battle Creek has shown up on several concerning lists, such as the Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in the United States as well as on the list of the Worst Cities to Raise Children in (https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/blog/top100dangerous, https://247wallst.com/special-report/2017/08/31/worst-cities-to-raise-children/2/). Unfortunately, Battle Creek was also named the Most Dangerous Metro in Michigan. (http://wbckfm.com/battle-creek-named-most-dangerous-metro-in-michigan/).

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, we have engaged over 450 youth through two events, though YAC has been creating charitable youth events for over 15 years. YAC is currently in the process of building out a calendar of events for the next 6 months and is excited to see what this can grow into. With seed money from T-Mobile and the Changemakers grant, YAC is confident that this is a sustainable project for many years to come. YAC has been in existence since 1988 and operates off of an endowment fund, which ensures sustainability. We have heard from the youth in our community that they are hungry for more events, and we are doing our best to keep up. YAC is hosting a screening of “Black Panther” at our Farmer’s Market on Saturday, June 2. These events have been vital to the well-being of youth in Battle Creek. At our Rink Event in December of 2017, BC youth helped raise over $400 for the Salvation Army.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Within the next year, the committee hopes to put on at least 6-10 more events. With these events, more and more youth continue to attend each time. We have had contact with and mutual interest in working with YMCA of Battle Creek, Leila Arboretum, the Parks and Rec Department of Battle Creek and many more organizations to help find unique community venues to host these events. At our retreat this August, we plan to build out an event calendar for the year and begin to reengage with organizations that have showed an interest in the past. Tying a charitable aspect to these events is also an interest. Partnering w/ nonprofit organizations to raise money while having fun is a great way to spread philanthropic values throughout Battle Creek.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

At the core, YAC is a grantmaking committee. We're fortunate enough to be associated with the Battle Creek Community Foundation and various donors. The money that we set aside from the endowment has put a severe strain on our budget for grantmaking, as that money from the endowment is intended to be granted out to the nonprofit organizations in the community who are helping with important problems that we face everyday. These nonprofits are doing great work in the community & by taking money out of the budget we are stopping the help of funding for these crucial organizations. We plan to engage individual donors and to get more local business backing for these events to help promote not only youth events, but to promote their businesses.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

Currently we have 2 Battle Creek YAC members on a countywide YAC. This connection between a number of different communities means that there are many other young people who are already trying to make a change and who would be willing to help. Also, the Battle Creek Youth Alliance Committee has young people belonging to 7 high schools throughout the area. Student bodies, teachers, and families are easily reached and can be connected to for more changemaking in the community. The Youth Alliance Committee has also partnered with nonprofit organizations, service clubs, National Honor Societies and various other student organizations in their schools to educate youth in Battle Creek on what philanthropy really means, as well as raising funds and conducting a mass material drives for the Battle Creek Neighborhood Food Panties and also the Charitable Union (an organization that provides clothing for low income residents in BC). YAC continues to seek out partnerships and relationships with all Battle Creek area organizations doing good work in the community. We're confident that we'll have the influence and man power to make this program sustainable with multiple partnerships.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
  • Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian) (7)
  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
  • Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Disability community
  • Low-income community
  • LGBTQ community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Word of mouth

Evaluation results

39 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 69.2%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 17.9%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 10.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 2.6%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 82.1%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 10.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 5.1%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 2.6%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 73.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 10.5%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 5.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 5.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 5.3%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 16.1%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 3.2%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 6.5%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 86.8%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 5.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 5.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 2.6%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

Attachments (1)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Joshua Chavez

It is so awesome how you guys have already been such a bright light for youth in a rough community such as Battle Creek! This challenge is all about shining bright lights in dark places.

Photo of Lindsey Keller

These students are rockstars and have such a passion for positive change.

Photo of Jeff Breedlove

By brining youth together in a creative way, that also promotes social interaction from different schools and other diversities, the YAC is solidifying a strong future for our youth. In Battle Creek, one if the top concerns is having constructive activities for our youth so they stay out of trouble and YAC seems to be filling that void. I can see a lot of potential for future activities that also promote local businesses at the same time. I like this program!

Photo of Linda Patenaude

So happy the Battle Creek Youth alliance is working to make our community a great place by providing youth positive experiences.

Photo of Danielle Snyder Potter

Your passion for this community is so inspiring. I can’t wait to see all of the wonderful things that you guys have planned in the future!!!

Photo of Valentina Matzner

Hi everyone! congrats for your great Battle Creek Community Foundation!

I recommend to study more deeply "social events" to grow, you didn't mentioned ; What kind of activities happen at your events?. in addition of course to promote local businesses and organizations...

This reference is one of the best events in Latin America! http://fiis.org/

Photo of Carlos Shorter

The dynamic members of the Youth Alliance Committee are listening to needs expressed by their peers and changing the narrative on youth in Battle Creek with each new event that they host. Keep up the great work and continue leading by example! The Youth Alliance Committee does so many amazing things for youth and nonprofit organizations in Battle Creek. As a fellow person from Michigan and making change I support this venture a lot. It is very inspiring to see you guys trying to improve you community for the better, and it looks like you are already doing great work! I would love to follow up and see if we can pare up. Contact me at carlos_mshorter@outlook.com

Photo of Ashley Morales

The Youth Alliance Committee does so many amazing things for youth and nonprofit organizations in Battle Creek. Their passion for this community is so inspiring. I can’t wait to see all of the great things they have planned in the future!

Photo of Gigi

It’s a great organization. Can’t wait to see them interact with the community in the future!

Photo of Justine Coteng

This is a super great idea and I'm excited to see how it may benefit Battle Creek!!

Photo of K. Fox

What an inspiring group!

Photo of Riley Rivard

This sounds awesome!

Photo of Azana J

It’s so wonderful to see so many young people eager to make a change in their community. I have very great hope that these driven young men and women will receive the grant and make big changes within our community!

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

We hope to continue this for years to come! Definitely needed in our community and beyond!

Photo of Tony Zebell

This looks awesome!

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

Hey, thanks, Tony!

Photo of Allie Graham

This organization is an amazing attribute to helping expose youth to local businesses and activities that are safe and fun! I really enjoyed the Rink event, and although I wasn’t able to attend the movie in the park, I know many of my friends who did and had a great time!

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

Couldn't do it without you, Allie!

Photo of Deacon

tbis organization is amazing, can't wait to see what other events they will have, great job and keep up the good work.

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

Thanks, Deacon!

Photo of Terry Burleson

The dynamic members of the Youth Alliance Committee are listening to needs expressed by their peers and changing the narrative on youth in Battle Creek with each new event that they host. Keep up the great work and continue leading by example!

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

Thanks for the comment, Terry!

Photo of Hunter King

The Battle Creek Youth Alliance Committee has done amazing work in our community for many years and seeing them take on this new initiative in our community in providing a safe and fun environment for high schoolers is absolutely incredible. In all honesty the Youth Alliance Committee is not only deserving of this grant, they are a bright light in our community and that light could be made even brighter with the help from this grant.

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

Thanks for all of your help, Hunter!!!!

Photo of Kristen

This is an amazing organization with some pretty great people trying to do some wonderful things for our community! They are doing their part to make Battle Creek a better place!

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

Thanks, Kristen!

Photo of Lisa

I really love what these kids are doing for their community, keep up the good work

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

Thanks for your support! We're excited for the future of BC!

Photo of Rachel Zapf

Every time I see what the Battle Creek Youth Advisory Committee is doing it makes me proud to be from Battle Creek. You embody what we stand for and are the future of this community. Best of luck!

Photo of Tiffany Blackman

Any positive events to keep teens motivated and moving forward is a plus! The added benefit of creating events for teens by teens is amazing! They have it within them to vision it and to execute it. Let's keep surrounding them with resources. Please be sure to partner with other groups at Voces, the City of BC, and Willard Library and their teen programming. Excited about what's next!

Photo of Morgan Benham

What an amazing group of young people! They have brought the youth of Battle Creek many opportunities and have many plans for the future. Couldn’t think of a more deserving group of innovators & game changers!

Photo of Cory Loosier

Absolutely amazing people with an amazing idea. I hope everything their planning on can be accomplished and this grant would be a great help in accomplishing that goal

Photo of Taryn P

YAC is doing amazing things for Battle Creek right now and I believe, by receiving this grant they will be able to do so mich more and help the community out in many different ways.

Photo of Skyelar

Never before have i seen this community willing socialize like i have seen at YAC events, I believe Battle Creeks YAC is pullling the best out of our community and i cannot wait to attend future events!

Photo of Sienna Petersen

Before the ice skating event, I had no idea about The Rink. Now, I'd be very likely to go back and ice skate again. I feel that exposing so many youth to new activities and bringing people in the community together is a very helpful tool in bettering the city as a whole!

Photo of Terris Todd

Very proud of this group of young people making a difference in our community in a positive way. Doing great things can become contagious. Keep up the great work!

Photo of Kate

Love this idea and organization! Hopefully the grant will be awarded and we can really change lives

Photo of Jorge

This is such a good organization especially when youth come together and stand by something to help impact the community. Keep up the good work

Photo of Taren Todd

I went to the movie in the park event. It was really fun and entertaining. I hope to see more events like this in the future.

Photo of Kelsey Marquez

This is such an amazing organization- keep up the good work!

Photo of Destinny Todd

Its great to have youth in Battle Creek come together and make change!! Great job!

Photo of Salina Saleh

This group is making such a large impact!! It’s so inspiring to see youth coming together to strengthen the community and this all definitely shouldn’t go unrecognized.

Photo of Makayla

Great idea! This is a wonderful start to making the community better!

Photo of Paul Cooper

With a group of 35 young people, I'd imagine this could be a pretty powerful idea. Though it seems simple, high school students need these types of events to keep them out of trouble. Being from the midwest, I'm rooting for you guys!

Photo of Adam Kingston

Awesome idea! You guys are inspiring a lot of young people!

Photo of Aidan Kelley

It is very inspiring to see you guys trying to improve you community for the better, and it looks like you are already doing great work! I hope that you can get greater resources to that you can further improve on your vision.

Photo of Youth Alliance Committee

Thanks for the comment, Aidan! We really feel like we're making a huge difference in our community! we are already impacting several hundred young people per event. Excited and hopeful for this project's future!