Community Impact Spotlight-Julie VanDyke
Q: What is your position within the Community Foundation for Mason County?
I am the Program Coordinator for the KickStart to Career (K2C) Program of Mason County.
Q: How long have you been in this position?
I have held this position since the KickStart to Career Program was launched in 2019.
Q: Tell us a little about the achievements of KickStart thus far.
This school year, we started our third cohort of kindergarten students. Currently, we have kindergarten, first & second graders involved in K2C of Mason County. Witnessing the awareness of the program growing in our community, and the number of private and philanthropic donations contributing to our program is so exciting to watch! Deposit Days are super exciting for students. To date, they have saved nearly $14,000 of their own money which they will be able to put toward furthering their education or vocational studies after high school graduation.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being part of the Community Foundation?
I love giving my time and energy to help make Mason County a community of choice! K2C and the Mason County Promise are two huge incentives for families to move to our area. Our family moved here full-time in 2007 after vacationing in the area as cottage owners on Lost Lake. We wanted to enjoy the quality of life here full-time and be part of a community where family is a priority.
Q: Tell us a little bit about KickStart to Career Program events coming up that you feel will make an impact on participating students and families.
Currently, in Mason County, 70% of students enroll in a post-secondary program and with a 35% completion rate. We have a community-wide goal to strengthen the college-going culture in Mason County to meet 75% enrollment by 2025 and 60% completion by 2030, our program promotes building the foundational building blocks to help students meet this goal. April is Financial Literacy Month, and we have two great events planned! We are holding our countywide Deposit Day on April 20th and on April 27th we will be hosting our first annual KickStart to Career Family Night: Show Me the Money Students and families will have the ability to learn more about saving for their future through various interactive activities, games, and prizes. The event is open to all current student cohorts and their families and will be held at West Shore Community College. We will also have foundation members present to discuss the specifics of the K2C program.
Q: Which community partners would you like to highlight as making an impact this spring on Deposit Day and your Family Night: Show Me the Money?
We are so fortunate to live in a generous community that understands the financial impact of preparing students for the expenses of post-secondary education and the benefits post-secondary program completion will have on the future of our community. Our financial partners this spring for countywide Deposit Day include West Shore Bank, Safe Harbor Credit Union, Lake Michigan CPA, and Scottville Optimist Club. Nader’s Motel & Suites and Adam and Christine Lamb have made pledges toward matching Deposit Day funds for students at Ludington Area Catholic. Additionally, we are so thankful for the generous $5,000 donation made by Consumers Energy toward the establishment of our KickStart to Career Family Night: Show Me the Money! A donation provided by the Mason-Lake Conservation District will also allow us to plant a tree for each student currently participating in the K2C program in the Educational Orchard at West Shore Community College.
If you would like to learn more about the KickStart to Career Program or have additional questions, Julie VanDyke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 231.845.0326, or 231.233.6867.