News & Event
Attendees participated in the Choose Your Impact “Crowdgranting” activity during the event, considering three types of grant support. Participants were asked to vote on the following priorities for awarding grants:
Photos are available on our Facebook page and slides & video from the presentation are available below.
A special thank you to the Community High School Jazz Band, AAACF’s Youth Council, and our event supporters!
April 12, 2016
The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) just announced a new $1 million-dollar endowed scholarship fund, the Level the Playing Field Fund, created by an anonymous donor new to AAACF. As its name implies, the Level the Playing Field Fund is intended to create a more equitable means for students to succeed. The Fund will be administered under AAACF’s Community Scholarship Program.
The Community Scholarship Program (CSP) supports students from one or more of the following populations in Washtenaw County: (1) students from low-income families; (2) students of color; and/or (3) first-generation college students, meaning neither parent holds a college degree. The Level the Playing Field Fund requires that the students have financial need and gives preference to students from Washtenaw County public school systems.
Included in the gift is a $250,000 challenge grant to encourage the rest of the community to participate in this exciting effort. Every dollar contributed to a scholarship fund that includes financial need as a criterion qualifies for the matching 1:1 funds.
The initial cohort of Community Scholars, made possible largely by the Level the Playing Field Fund, was just announced at AAACF’s Annual Community meeting on April 11, 2016, at Washtenaw Community College. AAACF has provided more than $1M in scholarship support to WCC students, primarily through the Morse Barker Memorial Scholarship, which will also support some Community Scholars. AAACF President & CEO Neel Hajra commends the caliber and potential of the Community Scholars, selected by a volunteer committee of community leaders with extensive experience in higher education.
Hajra shares: “We are proud to announce the initial cohort for the AAACF Community Scholarship Program and are so grateful to a donor who wants to celebrate these student recipients who deserve to have their higher education aspirations supported and validated.” In addition to the scholarship funding, Hajra notes that the Community Scholars will be supported by a “Success Coach” who will help the students to navigate the college experience. AAACF is funding the Success Coach in the inaugural academic year through a partnership with Washtenaw Futures, Eastern Michigan University, and Washtenaw Community College.
The 2016 Community Scholars are Andrew Besford (Skyline High School HS); Savannah Ellington (Pioneer HS); Ray’Jon Williams-Jackson (Ypsilanti Community HS-AC Tech); Nyla Dew (Ypsilanti Community HS); Jeffrey Williams (Pioneer HS); Aazhane Hearon (Huron HS); Chelsea Hollins (Ypsilanti New Tech HS); Cristal Vazquez (Pioneer HS); Diana Bernal-Canseco (Ypsilanti Community HS-STEMM Middle College); Keitra Osler (Ypsilanti Community HS); Salamah Wadi (Pioneer HS).
“The Level the Playing Field Fund provides an important new source of targeted scholarship support for Washtenaw County students, and the incentive for others to contribute through the match makes it a truly community-based program,” Hajra declares. Although AAACF has been awarding scholarships for decades, Hajra says that this new program will “magnify our ability to ensure that students not only attend college, but graduate.”
Read about the announcement in the MLive.com article about the launch of the Challenge Grant & the AAACF Community Scholars awardees at the AAACF 2016 Annual Community Meeting!
March 2, 2017
In the fall of 2016, AAACF piloted a new type of community investment, called Bold Ideas, to invest in innovative ideas and projects that generate a significant leap in how our community addresses a long-term or emerging need. Three organizations were asked to pitch their Bold Ideas:
Including $30,000 of support from AAACF's Community Impact funds, this pilot resulted in more than $100,000 total invested in the three Bold Ideas, through the support of local donors & funders and AAACF Donor Advised Funds. Read more below about their Bold Ideas, and stay tuned for updates on their work!
Cultivate Coffee & Tap House has a straightforward mission: to create a social enterprise that exists to do good. For Cultivate, this means, one that creates a rich community environment within the setting of a neighborhood coffee and tap house and uses the resulting profits as funding to support local and global hunger relief programs in addition to innovating new solutions.
Cultivate has chosen to help end hunger in our county by 2030. They have created a social enterprise model and physical space that is solely focused on doing good in the community.
In doing so, their work includes creating a hunger map, hosting community discussions on race, hunger and other poverty-related topics, sourcing local food, building partnerships with Ypsilanti schools, and maintaining open book management.
The Washtenaw ID Project is a public/private partnership of community representatives, advocates, county government staff and elected officials that addresses the denial of the human right to recognition and the exclusion from necessary goods and services of an estimated 42,000 residents who lack a government issued ID. The ID Project made a government-issued ID more accessible by petitioning the County Board of Commissioners to verify the identification of County residents and issue ID Cards through the Office of the County Clerk. Since June 2015 over 1,200 residents have obtained a County ID and over 90% of all applicants received assistance from the ID Support Clinic.
Without a valid government-issued photo-ID, approximately 42,000 members of our community, disproportionately from traditionally stigmatized populations, are denied access to necessary goods and services and excluded from participation in civic life, forcing them to live in the shadows and on the margins of the Washtenaw County community.
Washtenaw ID Project intends to expand their work, including conducting an outreach campaign for businesses encouraging acceptance of the Washtenaw ID, measuring the effectiveness of the ID Program, consulting with local government, creating a toolkit to formalize the model, and coordinating the volunteer-run ID support clinic.
Founded in 2014, SnowBuddy is a free snow removal service maintaining twelve miles of Ann Arbor sidewalk in a pilot neighborhood with the goal of a city-wide sidewalk snow removal program.
Northern cities struggle to maintain safe and accessible sidewalks through the snowy months of winter. They struggle and they fail, and sidewalk transportation becomes a barrier to, rather than a provider of, mobility, pushing dependency on the automobile for transportation even when work, shopping and entertainment are a reasonable walking distance away. A more pedestrian friendly city needs less parking, has less street congestion and has a more active and healthy population.
Refining their operations will allow the organization to promote a community-wide solution to maintaining sidewalks as safe and effective means of environmentally responsible transportation for everyone, everywhere in Ann Arbor, during every season. To that end, SnowBuddy will design and execute a campaign to raise awareness of possible community wide solutions and build consensus towards implementing them.
Ann Arbor, MI, November 8, 2017—A packed gathering of private, public, and nonprofit leaders at Eagle Crest Golf Club in Ypsilanti heard announcements of three new collaborations to incentivize educational success for Ypsilanti Community School (YCS) students. First, the Mary Williams Gillenwater Scholarship will now be administered as part of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) Community Scholarship Program so that YCS students can receive the Community Scholarship Program’s multi-year awards and a dedicated “college success coach.” Bank of Ann Arbor is managing the assets of the Gillenwater Trust and partnering with the Community Foundation to administer the funds.
Greg Peoples, a lifelong educator and Ypsilanti Area Community Fund (YACF) Co-Chair, announced that in addition to the management of the Gillenwater Trust through Bank of Ann Arbor, the Gillenwater legacy will also live on because an anonymous donor has created the “YACF Gillenwater Legacy Fund” and seeded it with $10,000. In addition, the donor will match, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000 in new gifts to the fund.
Finally, Nat Alston, National Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR), a 15,000 member strong organization, made a special appearance in advance of the national conference NAAAHR will hold in Washtenaw County next year. Alston announced a memorandum of understanding with YCS to introduce national best practices in public education surrounding educational achievement, parental engagement, and community support.
As YACF’s Peoples concluded of the three announcements: “Our local schools need to have the public, private, and nonprofit sectors collaborating, and we have heard about that this evening!” Through its new grantmaking program, he also explained that YACF will encourage this kind of impact: “Our vision is that every family in the Ypsilanti area will thrive by gaining access to programs and services through collaborative partnerships across sectors that measurably increase health outcomes and educational attainment leading to economic well-being.”
Crowd applauding news.
Leaders from AAACF, Bank of Ann Arbor, CVB, NAAAHR, YACF and YCS.
The Ypsilanti Area Community Fund is an affiliate of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF, which is dedicated to enriching the quality of life in our region through engaged grantmaking, knowledgeable leadership, and creative partnerships with donors. Founded in 1963, AAACF currently manages more than $100 million in total assets administered through more than 500 charitable funds on the community’s behalf.
January 14, 2016
St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor has pledged $250,000 annually to the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders collaboration to support health and human service agencies that serve Washtenaw County.
"We are so pleased to support the good work that is being done here in Washtenaw County," said Dave Brooks, president, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals. "This unique collaboration model has created a coordinated approach to streamline funding and maximize the ability of local organizations to improve people's lives in this community."
The Washtenaw Coordinated Funders are a collaboration of six local funders, including the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, the City of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, the Washtenaw Urban County, the RNR Foundation, and the United Way of Washtenaw County. St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor now becomes the seventh funder to join this collaborative.
A unique private-public partnership, the funding partners work closely with health and human service agencies across Washtenaw County to understand the community’s greatest needs, establish shared goals and measure outcomes across five priority areas: Aging, Housing and Homelessness, Safety-Net Health and Nutrition, and Cradle to Career including both Early Childhood and School-Age Youth.
"The addition of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor to the Coordinated Funding collaboration is a game-changer," said Neel Hajra, president and CEO, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. "It takes an innovative and successful model to a new level, and we're all excited to do even more to help the most vulnerable residents in our community."
The Washtenaw Coordinated Funders are currently in the process of reviewing grants for an estimated $4.5 million in funding available through the organization. Past recipients have included Avalon Housing, Corner Health Center, Faith in Action, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Washtenaw County, Milan Seniors for Healthy Living, Packard Health clinic and Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels.
“St. Joe’s is an important community organization joining the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders that will not only increase funds available to nonprofit agencies but deepen the expertise, evaluation and technology resources that will enrich and strengthen the safety net of human services," said Pam Smith, president and CEO of the United Way of Washtenaw County.
As a faith-based health system committed to the health of the community, supporting the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders is one of the best ways to affect the root causes that contribute to one's health, according to Michael Miller, regional chief mission officer, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
"At St. Joe's, we want to invest in improving the underlying social determinants of health such as housing and food access that can negatively impact chronic disease and other health issues."
Since 2011, the Washtenaw Coordinated Funds have jointly awarded more than $24 million to strengthen the safety net in Washtenaw County.
June 21, 2017
Youth Council consists of ~25 diverse students from Ann Arbor public, private, and independent high schools who work together to better the lives of youth in Washtenaw County. At the 2017 Youth Council Year-End Reception, we celebrated the graduations of six of our Youth Council members.
Years on Youth Council: 4
What did you learn on YC: Youth Council has taught me to always value and consider the perspectives of others. It has taught me about the discrepancies in my community and the world. It has taught me that I have the power to make a difference.
Next Year: University of Michigan
Years on Youth Council: 3
Favorite Grant: Universal Access Playground grant. The size and scope of the grant maximized our impact on the community in a tangible result, for a cause that is eternally right.
Next Year: University of Michigan, LSA Honors Program
What did you learn on YC: I’ve been able to see how the need for the services that nonprofits provide stem directly from the failures of government. Seeing youth who don’t have the opportunities and things that I take for granted has definitely played a part in my decision to study public policy next year. In the future I’d like to help to solve the problems that many nonprofits have to address.
Next Year: George Washington University
Favorite Grant: Friends of the A2 Skatepark. Encouraging girls to learn to skateboard is such a unique program and we were able to see how successful it ended up being.
What did you learn on YC: YC has made me much more aware of the types of things our community needs. It has improved many skills of mine such as problem solving, debating, and public speaking, as well as taught me how powerful teen voices can be in the community.
Next Year: Emory University
Years of Youth Council: 2
Favorite Grant: Adapted Bike Camp, by LightUp Shine Now. It gives disabled kids the opportunity to be independent, which would feel amazing. I know I personally love being independent.
Favorite YC Memory: Pizza dinner with Youth Council!
Favorite Grant: Universal Access Playground grant
What did you learn on YC: Youth Council has taught me how to interact with people of different ages, backgrounds, and priorities. Engaging with the other members of the YC has taught me to be aware of my perspective and the perspectives of others.
Next Year: Colorado College
Savannah Ellington, a 2016 Community Scholar, and Shawntae Harris, College Success Coach, shared their experiences with the Community Scholarship Program at the 2016 Founders Society Luncheon.