News & Event
February 17, 2016
Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation Announces $250,000 Grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.
Thanks to the generosity of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and its 2015 Transitional Legacy Grant Program, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation will receive a $250,000 grant to establish The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Fund for Sustainability, as well as a new gift annuities program and other key initiatives.
With this generous support the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation will establish The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Fund for Sustainability to build and increase the capacity and sustainability of the Community Foundation to continue its mission of creating real impact locally. AAACF President CEO Neel Hajra believes, “The Wilson Foundation investment in our work comes at a critical juncture in the Community Foundation’s growth as we build upon a 50-year history and are seeking ways to expand our impact in the community and invite even more individuals and organizations to partner with us in continuing to make the Washtenaw County region such a dynamic place to live and work.”
AAACF has invested nearly $40 million into its community and is a long-established philanthropic partner. The Wilson Foundation grant will allow AAACF to continue its work as a leader in finding innovative solutions to the region’s most challenging problems and creating even broader impact on quality of life.
As AAACF advances its community investments, it will also expand the philanthropic services available to donors and professional advisors in the region. To this end, AAACF will use a portion of the grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to launch a gift annuities program to create more effective resources for donors and professional advisors. “The support from the Wilson Foundation will help enhance AAACF’s role as Washtenaw County’s center of philanthropy by developing capacity for even more charitable programs over time and providing a new set of long-term tools for engaging even more donors,” shares Shelley Strickland, AAACF Vice President for Development & Donor Services AAACF also plans to use a portion of the grant to expand and enhance its meeting facilities to allow for community convenings that allow nonprofits, business leaders, philanthropists and other local leaders to meet, collaborate and connect for greater impact in the region.
Trustees of The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced this grant to AAACF on November 18, 2015, as part of more than $17.4 million in support to 20 organizations throughout the greater Detroit region. “We are proud to announce these grants in collaboration with charitable organizations throughout Southeastern Michigan,” said Mary Wilson, Life Trustee of The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and wife of Ralph Wilson. “I know Ralph would be eternally grateful to see his passion for his hometown continue in this way, and it is wonderful to know his legacy will endure through the tireless efforts of so many organizations and people.”
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York, reflecting Mr. Wilson’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and the people of greater Buffalo, home of his Bills franchise. The Foundation was funded by the $1.2 billion irrevocable trust created by Mr. Wilson, who passed away on March 25, 2014. While long-term grant cycles will begin in 2016, this year’s one-time legacy grant program was created to help establish the Foundation and begin to share the societal gift left by Mr. Wilson. Per Mr. Wilson’s directive, the Foundation’s $1.2 billion corpus will be spent over the course of 20 years, in the hopes that its impact will be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best.
The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation is dedicated to enriching the quality of life in our region through its engaged grantmaking, knowledgeable leadership, and creative partnerships with donors to make philanthropic investments and build endowment. Founded in 1963, AAACF has awarded nearly $40 million in grants and scholarships that have changed thousands of lives. AAACF currently manages more than $77 million in total assets and more than 550 charitable funds on behalf of the greater Ann Arbor area. As Washtenaw County’s center of philanthropy, AAACF provides individuals, families and corporations with simple and effective ways to make an impact.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a newly funded private foundation headquartered in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI. The Foundation was established in 2011 by Mr. Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. to eventually become the vehicle to receive a substantial amount of his Estate’s proceeds which are to be used exclusively for charitable purposes. Mr. Wilson passed away on March 25, 2014 after which the Trustees liquidated the majority of his Estate’s assets and funded the Foundation with $1.2 Billion in early 2015. It measures in the top five of Michigan based private foundations and has a 20 year lifespan. The same four individuals who served as trustees for Mr. Wilson’s Estate are designated as Life Trustees of the Foundation. An additional three trustees will be added in the near future.
AAACF is pleased to announce that we are
now accepting applications! Available grant programs include:
Bach Fund for Seniors Grant Program: This grant program prioritizes funding for organizations, programs, and services that support and serve caregivers of seniors. The Fund also provides grant support to organizations, programs, and services that serve seniors in our community. We will distribute $130,000 in competitive grants to local nonprofits delivering program and services in Washtenaw County. Staff Contact: Christopher Lemon.
Youth Council Grant Program: Youth Council grants are available for programs that serve area youth between the ages of 5-18. The Youth Council will be directing funds toward programs that focus on the following issues: Mental Health, College Preparedness, Teen Employment, and Discrimination. This year, the Youth Council will distribute $80,000 in competitive grants in a single grant cycle to local nonprofits delivering program and services in Washtenaw County. Staff Contact: Maryellen Ferro.
Application Submission Process:
November 17, 2016
At our Annual Community Meeting this past May, we asked the community to take part in a new activity that put them in the driver’s seat as grantmakers, while also giving them a chance to let us know how they thought our resources should be divided up between our priorities. This "Crowd-Granting" activity asked each participant to take an imaginary $100 and divide it up between AAACF’s four strategic priorities: Cultural Economic Development, our new Community Scholarship Program, Coordinated Funding, and Rewarding Success.
You could choose any way of distributing your dollars – you could throw it all in one of our priorities, divide it evenly between all four, do a 70-30 split between two and leave none for the rest…it was yours to decide. Once we had tallied everyone's responses, we shared with the community that we would actually be distributing $10,000 (generously donated by donor advised fundholders) across the four priorities according to how they had voted. The results were as follows:
We also promised an update on the efforts that these funds had helped support. We are happy to share the great work that has been enabled through the crowd-granting and want to extend profound thanks to our community for contributing their voice.
Cultural Economic Development – The $2,100 helped support a $5,000 “Participating Grantmaker” membership with DataArts, a powerful online management tool designed to strengthen arts and cultural organizations. DataArts gathers reliable, longitudinal data on the sector that can be accessed by funders to better understand the health of the sector as well as inform individual grant decision making.
Community Scholarship Program – A crucial element of our Community Scholarship Program that sets it apart from other, similar efforts is the inclusion of a Success Coach paired with each recipient in addition to the scholarship award. The coach helps students navigate all of the non-academic challenges of attending college, as well as connect with campus resources that can help them succeed. The $2,300 from the Annual Meeting will support this transformative approach to scholarships.
Coordinated Funding – Proceeds from the Crowd-Granting exercise went to support our capacity building efforts in partnership with ZingTrain and Nonprofit Enterprise at Work. This year we offered Program Operations grantees the opportunity to participate in the Leadership Deli, a leadership development and organizational capacity building program originally piloted in 2014.
Rewarding Success – In June, a new cohort of Rewarding Success grantees were announced to the public. These organizations demonstrated that they are operating on the highest levels of financial health, leadership and governance, and impactful programming – the “gold standard” of our local nonprofit sector. The $2,100 from the Crowd-Granting activity was evenly distributed across each of the grantees.
May 2, 2016
The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) has been awarded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships, accepted on behalf of the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders (AAACF, the United Way of Washtenaw County, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, RNR Foundation, Washtenaw County, the City of Ann Arbor, and the Washtenaw Urban County).
In an effort to recognize foundations that work to improve neighborhoods and the lives of the people who live in them, HUD and the Council on Foundations (COF) made ten awards nationally to foundations for their outstanding partnership with the public sector. Presented at COF's 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., awards were given to place-based funders for completed or ongoing initiatives that are executed in partnership with a local, regional, or federal government agency.
Pam Smith, President & CEO of the United Way of Washtenaw County, said “The Washtenaw Coordinated Funders partnership began as a pilot program in 2010 and has grown to a data-driven, outcomes-focused grant making collaborative with a $24 million investment in the social safety net in Washtenaw County. Coordinated Funding maximizes each funder’s investment, leverages limited resources, and also streamlines grantee application and reporting procedures.”
Coordinated Funding currently supports 50 agencies and 60 different top-notch programs and services, reaching an estimated 35,000 clients. By 2016, the funders will have collectively distributed $24 million in grants among four priority areas: safety-net health & nutrition, housing and homelessness, aging, and cradle-to-career (representing early childhood and school-age youth). "Together we are able to more effectively invest public and private dollars to help the most vulnerable residents of our community," said Chuck Warpehoski, Ann Arbor City Council Member, and member of the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders Leadership team.
Neel Hajra, President & CEO of AAACF, remarked “The Coordinated Funders represents a unique partnership among organizations with a longstanding commitment to the county’s most vulnerable residents as well as organizations that were inspired by the success of the model to invest their dollars into the community for the first time. The success of Coordinated Funding has recently been able to attract funds from organizations outside the partnership as well: The Michigan Health Endowment Fund committed $380,000 into the model, funds that would not have otherwise been invested in the Washtenaw County social safety-net if not for the existence of Coordinated Funding.”
Additional award honorees included Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Incourage, Seattle Foundation, Community Foundation of the New River Valley, Toledo Community Foundation and The Montgomery County Foundation, Inc.
Video of presentations: www.facebook.com/CouncilonFoundations/videos/1107340219287047
The Washtenaw Coordinated Funders are a public-private collaboration between the City of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, the Washtenaw Urban County, United Way of Washtenaw County, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor hospital, and the RNR Foundation. For more information, please visit www.coordinatedfunders.org.
May 12, 2017
With the creation of a new $500,000 loan fund, Washtenaw County nonprofits will soon have access to a new source of capital. During its 2017 Annual Community Meeting, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) announced an enhanced “impact investing” effort made possible by a social-impact strategist and donor.
Fran Loosen no longer lives locally, yet continues to direct even more family resources into a donor-advised fund (the Revolver Fund) she established at AAACF because of the foundation’s innovative new directions. A former knowledge officer with the Kellogg Foundation holding two Master’s degrees from the University of Michigan, Loosen wants neither her gift nor the impact investing program to focus on her, but rather on the outcomes it will make possible for the local community.
Neel Hajra, AAACF President & CEO, told the more than 400 event attendees that the Community Foundation wants to find additional ways to convert charitable capital and to leverage the power of AAACF’s $80M endowment into local impact. Hajra said, “We view nonprofit loan-making as an enhancement and supplement to our core grantmaking and scholarship work. Following further development this spring and summer—including hearing from nonprofits on where they see opportunities—we’ll be announcing our nonprofit loan program parameters this fall.”
AAACF successfully piloted a loan program with the Ann Arbor Art Center, a partnership that has been well documented and publicized and was also funded by the Revolver Fund. Impact investing has many possible directions, with direct loans to nonprofits at below-market rates (otherwise known as “program-related investments”) being the most conventional and lowest risk. Hajra cautions, “This nonprofit loan program in no way replaces banks and, in fact, AAACF sees this extension beyond its grantmaking as a way to potentially partner with other financial institutions in order to advance the nonprofit sector.” With grants, funds are distributed with no expectation to pay them back; by contrast, nonprofit loans require a low interest repayment of funds. Thanks to Ms. Loosen’s support through the Revolver Fund, AAACF will not be utilizing any of its permanent charitable funds to issue loans.
The unveiling of AAACF’s new nonprofit loan followed announcements of other impact for Washtenaw County, including the completion of a $250,000 matching program for the continued growth of its Community Scholarship Program, which provides multi-year scholarships and a dedicated success coach to local students from low-income families, students of color, and first-generation college students.
The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) is dedicated to enriching the quality of life in our region through its engaged grantmaking, knowledgeable leadership, and creative partnerships with donors. Founded in 1963, AAACF has awarded more than $45 million in grants and scholarships that have changed thousands of lives. AAACF currently manages more than $100 million in total assets and 550 charitable funds on our community’s behalf.
June 22, 2016
Coordinated Funders commit program operating funds to four priority areas.
Washtenaw Coordinated Funders, a consortium of public and private funders, awarded $4.586 million for Human Services Program/Operations to meet the needs of our community’s most vulnerable for the next two years. Funding was awarded in four priority areas: Aging, Housing & Homelessness, Safety-Net Health & Nutrition, and Cradle to Career–Early Childhood & School-Age Youth for both Program Operations and Capacity Building.
Grants are for the next two fiscal years, starting July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018. A total of 67 programs across 38 agencies were funded in the two-year cycle.
“While funding has increased $390,000 since the last funding cycle due to grant funding through the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the addition of St. Joseph Mercy Health Ann Arbor as a funder, we’re still finding that need is outpacing resources,” said Neel Hajra, President & CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. “For this funding cycle, we had $9 million dollars in requests and were able to fund only about half of that.”
“Coordinated Funding fits well with our mission and we have been impressed with the thorough and thoughtful process with a clear focus on outcomes that will support the most vulnerable in our community,” said Michael Miller, Regional Chief Mission Officer for St. Joseph Mercy Health System. “More than 40 volunteers spent over 1,000 hours reviewing grant requests and related documents, showing commitment and care in the selection process. We are proud to be part of it.”
Pam Smith, President & CEO of United Way of Washtenaw County noted that improvements in the application process had positive results in this award cycle. “For the 6th year of Coordinated Funding, we felt it was time to adjust our process by directing additional outreach directed to minority-led or minority-serving non-profit agencies,” Smith said. “Through the outreach and synchronization of both capacity-building and program operations grant applications, we were able to include 17 new programs including new non-profit partners that had not formerly received funding from the Coordinated Funders.”
The Washtenaw Coordinated Funders is a private-public partnership of the City of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Washtenaw Urban County, the United Way of Washtenaw County, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, St Joseph Mercy Health Ann Arbor, and the RNR Foundation.
“The work of the service providers is essential for so many in Washtenaw County,” said Felicia Brabec, Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. “The more we look into equity in our county, the more that we find geographies and specific groups that need additional support and resources to connect them with opportunity. And that’s much of what Coordinating Funding is working toward.”
Annual program operation investments by funder are listed below:
Questions about the Coordinated Funders can be directed to any of the partner organizations: Pam Smith, President & CEO of United Way of Washtenaw County at firstname.lastname@example.org; Neel Hajra, President & CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation at email@example.com, Michael Miller, Regional Chief Mission Officer for St. Joseph Mercy Health System at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Brett Lenart, Interim Director Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development at email@example.com.