First Winners of Acorn2Oak Youth Grant Program Announced

Oakland County and Leadership Oakland Initiative Supports Projects of 31 Local Residents

Oakland County, [MAY 2024] –Oakland County and Leadership Oakland announce the first winners of the Acorn2Oak Youth Grant Program. More than 30 remarkable young people were awarded grants of up to $1,000 to help fund their innovative projects and business initiatives, as well as community give-back activities and other empowering ventures.

Since its launch in February 2024, the Acorn2Oak program has been dedicated to fostering the growth and development of the county’s youth, ages 8 to 18, by financially supporting their aspirations. The initiative aims to turn dreams into achievable goals by nurturing innovation, education, and creativity.

“These young people are making their communities better places to live and transforming their entrepreneurial dreams into reality,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “These Acorn2Oak mini-grants are showing our young people that we are confident and optimistic about their future. I am so proud of the example they are setting.”

The May 2024 Grant Awardees by focus area:

Business and Entrepreneurial Development: Supporting young entrepreneurs to kickstart their ventures.

  • Logan Cobb, 14, Southfield: Just About Everything
  • Laithyn Cobb, 11, Southfield: Salt Body Scrubs
  • Whitney DeSana, 13, South Lyon: Whitney’s Sugar Shack at the Youth Entrepreneur Market
  • Adam DeSana, 11, South Lyon: Custom Shirts at Youth Entrepreneur Market
  • Addison Huff, 11, Oak Park: Pet Shelters
  • Dayleigh Jackson, 10, Southfield: Dayleigh’s Chicken Farm
  • Nyla Johnson, 11, Rochester: Stranded in Candyland Book
  • Allie Kelco, 12, Clarkston: Gluten-free Bakery
  • Drew Lang, 17, Royal Oak: Opening a Detailing Business
  • Madalynn Loughry, 13, Royal Oak: Photography
  • Addison Marion, 9, Oxford: Slime Inventor
  • Kennedy Merckx, 12, South Lyon: Kandels & More
  • Maddie Munday, 12, South Lyon: Kandels & More
  • Tori Stewart, 15, Waterford: Star Crochets
  • Matthew Strickland, 11, Troy: Lawn Mowing

Community Impact: Funding projects aimed at enhancing social enterprises, nonprofits, or community initiatives.

  • Arnav Acharya, 10, Rochester Hills: First Lego League Explorer Sessions
  • Ella Boger, 15, Lake Orion: Type Happy Foundation
  • Liza Bruner, 18, Lake Orion: All Hands In! Summer Camp for Special Education Students
  • Kishyo Giri, 15, Rochester Hills: Community Robotics Team to Facilitate and Enhance STEM Activities for Kids
  • Delsea Hall, 9, Beverly Hills: VexIQ Robotics Club – Circuit Surfers
  • Shaurya Lohia, 10, Troy: Healthy and Informative use of Technology Project
  • Audrie Miller, 13, Rochester Hills: Mental Health Awareness Month ‘You Matter Table’
  • Sarah Milligan, 17, Royal Oak: Biscuit Beacon – Project PawPower
  • Elin Prince, 9, Ortonville: Care Packages for Oxford Shooting Victims focused on Illness Prevention from Trauma
  • Symphonie Zhou, 9, Beverly Hills: VEX IQ Robotic club – Team Circuit Surfers

Educational Achievement: Assisting with academic programs, competitions, or specialized training.

  • Noah Antwan, 16, Royal Oak: National Student Leadership Conference
  • Anna Bosman, 16, Troy: Medicine and Public Health Specialized Educational Workshop

Extracurricular Investment: Supporting one-time investments in activities aligned with the program’s mission.

  • Robby Dicks, 16, Farmington Hills: Transforming Cinderella Dress
  • Josie Ethier, 17, Troy: Interlochen Oboe Camp
  • Joelee Richardson, 13, Waterford: Attend Gothia Cup in Sweden
  • Ben Schoenhals, 14, Lake Orion: FTC World Championships

“Our hope for the program was that we would reach youth to help bring their brilliant ideas to life,” said Susan Hollady, Executive Director of Leadership Oakland. “Not only were the youth receiving the award excited to learn they had been awarded a grant as it reinforced their vision; I was taken by surprise at the emotion expressed by the recipient and by the parents who were understandably proud of this achievement.”

Forty-five local students applied for the first round of funding. Those who did not receive grants in this first round are welcome to apply again, with guidance from the Steering Committee. The next deadline is June 15.

“It was an inspiration reading each of these applications and learning about the programs, projects, and

ideas. Even if they didn’t receive a grant this time, we want each of these young adults to feel empowered in their ideas and projects,” said Hollady. “We’ll be awarding grants four times a year and encourage students to fine-tune their applications based on our feedback and apply again.”

The awarded grants are a testament to the potential of Oakland County’s youth to inspire and drive change within the community. It specifically excludes funding for tuition, ongoing expenses, sporting equipment, or team registration fees.

To learn more about each of the winners and their projects or business, follow Acorn2Oak on Facebook or Instagram.