The Youth Empowerment Council is partnering with the Natrona Collective Health Trust to facilitate the awarding of $240,000 to improve the mental health and well-being of young people in Natrona County.

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That's according to a press release from the Natrona Collective Health Trust, who wrote that the two organizations will use a process called Participatory Grantmaking (PGM). According to the release, YEC will develop a grant program, the grantmaking process, and they will 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.”

PGM has a core concept that says 'Nothing about us, without us." The PGM process is about "involving the people most affected by the issues in making decisions around those issues." reports that there are more than 600 youth-led grantmaking programs using this model around the U.S.

The release noted that the YEC project is facilitated by the Trust's Senior Director of Programs and Community Engagement, as well as the Mayor of Casper, Ray Pacheco. Pacheco also has strong ties to YEC as well.

With the partnership of YEC and NCHT, 10 middle school and high school youth are meeting twice a month to develop the program. Additionally, the youth leaders are paid a stipend from the NCHT in exchange for their time and expertise.

Janessa Miramontes is a member of the Youth Empowerment Council as well as a member of the NCHT's Program Committee. She is one of the young people embarking on this project.

“I’ve enjoyed serving on the Program Committee and now helping lead the work with YEC,” Miramontes 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 YEC intends to award the available dollars to local nonprofits by the end of May, 2023.

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