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Youth Making Change (YMC) is a teen-led grant-making program that provides young people with the opportunity to engage directly in organized philanthropy (grant giving).​

There are two YMC Boards — one meets in Santa Maria and the other in Santa Barbara — and both are led by teens, ages 13-19. Each board gives out $15,000 per year in grants to youth-led projects that impact young people in Santa Barbara County. They create and conduct an entire grant cycle and then share with their communities what they learned as grant-makers and philanthropists. Each YMC board is led by two Youth Facilitators, each a previous YMC board member. Facilitators assist the board in meeting their objectives by providing an experienced perspective on the grant-making process. Since 2008, YMC has awarded more than $350,000 to over 165 youth-led groups throughout Santa Barbara County.


“YMC has given me the opportunity to become friends with people from different backgrounds and people that are passionate about different facets of social change. My experience has also given me a new perspective on my community and what can be done to improve the lives of members of my community.”


“The thing I love about this program: it makes it clear that our youth are NOT the future leaders of the world. Rather they are the leaders NOW. YMC allows youth the opportunity to lead, to get other youth involved in learning about and applying for grants, and allows our youth-led community development programs additional funding to better impact our youth.”


“I watched my daughter gain more self-esteem and become more assertive. She knows her voice is important and now takes steps to make sure she is heard.”