Jerome Yantz, a champion for the underdog

It started with a conversation over a cup of coffee. In 2008, a group of business and education leaders in Bay County met to discuss how our community could better prepare our youth for the future. Among these leaders sat Jerome Yantz.

Jerome, a native of Standish-Sterling later moving to Bay County, spent his entire life working hard and giving back to his community. Anyone who knew Jerome appreciated his quick wit, great sense of humor and ability to make those around him feel valued.

Jerome made it a life’s mission to support those who worked to better themselves.

“A champion for the underdog,” his son, Jeff Yantz, fondly describes him as.

Growing up with very little, Jerome understood the sacrifices some young people must make in order to achieve their dreams. He was determined to make the road a little less rocky for youth in the Bay community.

His vision of a better community through education drove Jerome and fellow leaders to found The Bay Commitment Scholarship Program targeting first-generation college students. Beginning as a scholarship for Bay City Public School students, it quickly grew to encompass all of Bay County. Recognizing that finances were only one of the obstacles first-generation students faced, these leaders also led the creation of a variety of programs focused on college awareness. The goal of these efforts was to increase student readiness and success by providing information, mentoring and resources.

During Bay Area Community Foundation’s (BACF) 2019 Bay Commitment Scholarship ceremony, Jerome explained, “We did this because we believed an advanced education – college or post secondary training – is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if your parents have gone on to college or how much money you have. The opportunity for advancing through education is something that must be open and available to all students.”

Throughout the years, Jerome has been honored with many accolades due to his courageous spirit, determined mind set and living a life of abundant generosity. Among these awards includes the BACF 2005 Peggy Rowley Community Enrichment Award and the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Athena Award.

Jerome is a leading example of how generosity changes everything. He gave generously of his time, talent and resources to help area youth.

Jerome also stated, “We did this because we also believed that education has the power to change everything, not only for the individual student but for all of us. An educated community is a strong and vibrant community.”

In recognition of Jerome’s extraordinary life and impact on BACF and the Bay Area, a Jerome Yantz Bay Commitment Scholar will be named annually in his honor from this point forward. Jerome’s legacy will live on for generations to come, through the very students he worked hard to represent.

Memorial contributions can be made in Jerome’s memory to the Bay Area Community Foundation.

We are happy to work with you on your plans for charitable giving. Call us at 989.893.4438 to set up an appointment.


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