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  • WSF Staff

Grant Highlight: Waterloo Youth City Council

Updated: Mar 22

The Waterloo Youth City Council centers academic excellence in their work, so when they submitted an application during our first grant cycle of the 2023-2024 school year, we couldn’t help but award them $16,000 for eight Waterloo Schools students to attend a Close-Up High School program in Washington D.C. This week-long conference brought students across the U.S. together to experience our government in action; students learned more about what our government does for us, but also what citizens and, specifically, our youth can do for the government.

Each of the six days in Washington D.C. was jam-packed with exciting, knowledge-filled experiences. Workshops held nearly every day covered different areas and aspects of politics and political efficacy, including examining the connections between liberty, equality, and justice, and current issues in democracy. Attendees debated with other students across the nation about current issues and political hot topics and even held a mock congress workshop to discuss, amend, and vote on the same issues elected representatives are currently considering.

 Our Waterloo Youth City Council’s eyes were opened throughout this entire experience. Their broadened knowledge of the judicial system taught them how to engage with other students from a variety of backgrounds. Those who went not only learned about what roles the government plays in our lives but also about how when citizens trust in their advocacy abilities, they too can change the government and influence political affairs.

"The main thing that I have said throughout our whole trip, in workshops and out, was that citizens DO have an impact on the government.” - Cheyenne White

The Waterloo Schools Foundation is proud to play a part in furthering academic excellence for our youth and sending these students on an experience of a lifetime. We serve as a resource to support unique academic opportunities, and the WYCC’s application was a perfect fit to further our mission. Our values are our backbone when giving grants, and this opportunity directly aligns with our value of longevity, creating opportunities that will have a lasting impact on the lives of students, their futures, and our local communities.

The WYCC brought the same passion and fire they have for Waterloo with them to Washington D.C. While at Close Up, students continued to advocate for one of their top priorities - mental health. After returning home from their trip, these eight students were pleasantly surprised to have received an email from Senator Chuck Grassley about what he has done and is currently doing for mental health advocacy alongside the Council, both in Iowa and across the U.S. 

“WYCC has made an impact on me and the way I live my life, it has kept me in great standings and helps me make an impact on my community. It was an honor to represent them in Washington D.C.” - Benjamin Ritter

About Waterloo Youth City Council: The Waterloo Youth City Council seeks to explore, communicate, and provide for the needs, problems, and activities affecting Waterloo’s youth. The WYCC is composed of members from all four high schools located in Waterloo, striving to make youth think critically and debate civilly. 

In the brief five years that the WYCC has been operating, its impact on Waterloo youth has been immeasurable. From lobbying in Des Moines to leading mental health education weeks in Waterloo, a large part of WYCC’s focus has been around breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness. Most recently, WYCC dedicated countless hours to lobbying for statewide legislation mandating contact information for mental health services be printed on student IDs. This bill was passed in 2023. Learn more about the WYCC on their website.

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