YAC Graduate Now KC Nonprofit Executive
Engaging students in philanthropy has been a part of Truman Heartland's work for decades through the Youth Advisory Council. Made up of students from high school's throughout Eastern Jackson County, YAC inspires students to use their voices to make a difference in the community.
YAC graduate Vanessa Ramirez is putting that mission into action as the Executive Director of YEP KC (Young Entrepreneurs Program, Kansas City), a hands-on internship program for high school students that focuses on entrepreneurial thinking and development through practical experience.
Vanessa recently presented to Youth Advisory Council via Zoom. We caught up with her after to talk about her work for YEP KC and her experience as a YAC member.
Truman Heartland: Congrats on your new position! What led you to this role?
Vanessa: I would say what has led me to my current position has been the connections I have been fortunate enough to make over the past few years. Building up your social capital is so important, especially when you’re just starting out as a young professional. I am a proud alum of The Young Entrepreneurs Program of Kansas City from the founding class of 2017. I was able to get connected with Kansas City’s most innovative Founders and CEOs. I then had the honor to come back four years later to help run the program.
T: Do you feel like Youth Advisory Council aided that journey?
V: Absolutely! YAC helped me establish a stronger sense of community and the importance of serving others, especially in the KC community. Prior to becoming Executive Director at YEP KC, I was a part of the founding team at Kansas City Girls Prep Academy, the first all-girls charter school in KC to be free and not require admission entrance exams. I was working in student recruitment there, helping Spanish speaking families through their process. Shortly after, I began my work in education and entrepreneurship, helping young folks all around Kansas City solve community issues through real world learning. My work has been centered around immigrant communities, quality education advocacy, and entrepreneurship. Which are all topics YAC introduced me to.
T: How does it feel to be on the other side now – presenting to YAC students?
V: I still feel like it was yesterday that I was sitting in a big room surrounded by forty other students talking about our experiences. Being on the other side now just makes me feel even more motivated to extend the same opportunities that I had onto other students. I feel as though it is important to keep that door open for those that come after us.
T: What advice do you have for these young philanthropists?
V: Something I appreciate about our generation is that social entrepreneurship seems to be a consistent theme when it comes to young folks starting businesses or organizations. Our generation seems to really connect to the social impact people or things have on society, and that gives me hope. My advice would be to not lose sight of this. Always practice your passion and generosity, no matter where you are placed.