Berrien Community Foundation’s T.E.A.M. Begins Year of Philanthropy

Group photo of the T.E.A.M. members holding a Berrien Community Foundation sign. Berrien Community Foundation announces the launch of its 2023-24 cohort of its youth advisory council, Teens Exhibiting Able Minds (T.E.A.M). And they’re looking for more teens who want to have a positive and fun impact in their communities.

T.E.A.M. provides a unique opportunity for students in Berrien County to learn about local nonprofits in a hands-on way, and award funding to projects and programs while making a difference in their communities.  T.E.A.M. is a committee of 8th-12th graders who awards about $50,000 a year in grants to programs and projects serving youth through education, after-school programs, youth empowerment and more. 

“T.E.A.M. helps our young people develop leadership skills and learn how to make change, which helps us build a stronger and more caring community in the long run,” said BCF Program Director Susan Matheny. 

In addition to grantmaking, T.E.A.M. visits local nonprofits to learn about their philanthropic impact on the community. They also plan and execute service projects and youth leadership opportunities for the county. 

Since its inception, T.E.A.M. has awarded over $1 million in grants to support programs and projects serving youth in Berrien County. Established in the 1990s, T.E.A.M. was formed as a result of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Youth Challenge for Community Foundations, which sought to grow youth endowment funds and engage more young people in philanthropy. Members of T.E.A.M. participate in service projects, review grant applications and make funding recommendation to BCF’s Board of Directors for youth programming. 

“What we do at T.E.A.M. is important and makes a difference in our fellow teens lives,” said T.E.A.M. Chair Daniel McKee, a senior at Brandywine High School “It is also fun! We get to meet people from all over the county and visit some really interesting places and programs. In just a few short days, we will be visiting the Niles Scream Park and learn how they support nonprofits.” 

Although T.E.A.M.’s current year of service has started, recruitment is still open as the group aims to expand. T.E.A.M. is seeking 8th-11th grade students who are interested in making an impact in their community. To learn more or apply, visit

The 2023-24 cohort of T.E.A.M. members includes: Daniel McKee, chair (Brandywine High School); Lauren Laws, vice chair (Watervliet High School); Josie Balkin, secretary (Our Lady of the Lake High School); Taylor Watson, communications lead (Berrien Springs High School); Parker Hume, special projects lead (St. Joseph High School); Josie Arbanas (Lakeshore High School); Emma Belin (Berrien Springs High School); Nora Bomar (Bridgman High School); Carter Brunke (Bridgman High School); Alexandra Cervantes (Berrien Springs High School); Megan Coffinger (Niles High School); Enilda Davis (Berrien Springs High School); Elizabeth Fisbeck (St. Joseph High School); Keeli Frank (Lakeshore High School); Emery Freeze (Brandywine High School); Sophia Godush (Lakeshore High School); Micah Jhala (St. Joseph High School); Benjamin Jollay (Our Lady of the Lake High School); Alexander McCully (Niles High School); Josiah Ntongai (Eau Claire High School); Amara Olexa (Watervliet High School); Colton Riggenbach (Niles High School); Lindsey Salmon (Bridgman High School); Abbigail Shaw (River Valley High School); Hannah Tyler (Bridgman High School); Nevaeh Stone (Benton Harbor High School); Tyler Valentine (Benton Harbor High School); Julian Van Plew-Cid (Bridgman High School); Hannah Wier (St. Joseph High School); Zoe Williams (Benton Harbor High School).