Photos courtesy of Hedi Rudd

#### One April 24th youth and their families and supporters gathered at the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) where they met with Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Renee Moe the CEO of United Way of Dane County and City of Madison staff and members of the By Youth for Youth committee, to celebrate and receive certificates recognizing the programs they represent. 

In April 2023, the By Youth for Youth committee awarded $36,447 to 13 local youth programs and projects. BYFY is a collaborative program through the Dane County Youth Commission, United Way of Dane County, the City of Madison Community Development Division, and UW-Extension Dane County’s Institute of Positive Youth Development.

By Youth For Youth’s funding priorities for 2023 were focused on mental and physical health, school programming and student support, youth experiencing poverty, youth experiencing food insecurity, youth experiencing homelessness, climate change, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), and immigration.

This year’s youth led committee was made up of 18 high school members from across Dane County who spent time learning about funding priorities and digging into data, which included the Dane County Youth Assessment Report. Youth also took part in site visits which included Second Harvest Food Bank, Bayview Foundation with Jewish Social Services of Madison, the Arts & Climate Change Workshop held at the Arts and Lit Lab and MLK Youth Call to Service Day, hosted by ULGM. Guest speakers, such as Anesis Therapy and UW Health Healthy Kids Collaborative also helped youth inform where the greatest needs may lie for youth. 

At the celebration, the youth leading the program shared that they really wanted to dig deep into the issues facing youth and chose to focus funding in a way that had long term impact. They recognized that many of them were dealing with the issues that the youth led submissions were addressing and they were excited to have a say in how that work was funded. They worked collaboratively to pick the programs they felt would have the most impact and to fund those in full, rather than partially. 

Dear Diary of Madison’s Students for Students program received funding to provide 250 personal hygiene bags to youth experiencing homelessness. Bayview Foundation’s Youth Advocacy and Support program provides LGBTQIA+ youth gender-based spaces where they can have deeper conversations around gender, gain leadership skills, and build a sense of community with peers. Rooted at Badger Rock received funding for their Eggscellent Chicken Coop, which aims to improve egg production and address food insecurity, through a larger more accessible coop. 

Memorial High School’s Latino student organization, Latinos Unidos, will provide support for the Latino community at the school and the broader community. Sun Prairie West High will provide Stop the Bleed Kits to address student safety in the event of an emergency. The Avicenna Society of Madison received funding to help Afghan and Libyan refugees with diapers, transportation assistance and help with US Citizenship and will also go toward funding a Afghan cuisine startup restaurant that will help address poverty, food insecurity, and employment opportunities for Afghan refugee youth in the Dane County area.

United Way CEO, Renee Moe was present at the celebration and shared her excitement. “By Youth For Youth gives the next generation of community leaders an opportunity to make real impact at a young age. These inspiring teens are learning how to collaborate, communicate effectively and accelerate results, all in order to help more people and change more lives. We are proud to convene Dane County’s up and coming thought leaders.” 

Madison Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway spoke with awardees and offered “By Youth For Youth is a one-of-a-kind youth program and the City of Madison is proud to partner with them. BYFY puts decision-making power in the hands of young people in real and structural ways, allowing participants to fund other youth programs, preparing them to be community leaders and participate in policy-making and funding decisions. BYFY supports young people in understanding and exercising the power they must better their communities.”

Dane County also provided funds for youth to distribute. “We are honored to provide funding to By Youth For Youth each year. This program provides Dane County high school students with the experience of allocating tangible funds that positively impact youth county-wide. It’s a unique and wonderful experience for youth interested in making a difference in their communities.” County Executive Joe Parisi championed.