Natrona Collective Health Trust has partnered with Casper’s Youth Empowerment Council (YEC) to facilitate a process to award $240,000 to improve the mental well-being of youth in Natrona County. Using a process called Participatory Grantmaking (PGM), YEC members will develop a grant program, grantmaking process, and make funding decisions on behalf of the foundation.
“One of our core values is to center on community, as we know those closest to the problems know how best to solve them,” said CEO Beth Worthen. “As a foundation seeking to improve the mental well-being of youth in Natrona County, we think it’s critically important for youth to have power, leadership, and decision-making authority on how we do that.”
With a core concept of “nothing about us without us,” PGM is about involving the people most affected by the issues in making decisions around those issues. According to YouthGiving.org, there are more than 600 youth-led grantmaking programs using this model around the United States.
The YEC project is facilitated by the Trust’s Senior Director of Programs and Community Engagement Ray Pacheco. Thanks to a partnership with YEC, 10 middle and high school youth are meeting a twice a month to develop the program. The youth leaders are also paid a stipend by the Trust for sharing their expertise and time.
Janessa Miramontes is a member of NCHT’s Program Committee and is among the YEC team members embarking on this PGM project.
“I’ve enjoyed serving on the Program Committee and now helping lead the work with YEC,” she said. “If we want youth to stay in Wyoming, build families and businesses, and help lead our state, then we need a voice in shaping our present. I appreciate NCHT’s willingness to let us address the problems we see affecting us, and their guidance throughout the process is very appreciated.”
The goal of the YEC group is to award the dollars to local nonprofits by the end of May 2023.