News & Event
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.
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.
October 3, 2016
“Impact investing actually represents a much wider spectrum of possibilities than traditional grantmaking,” says Neel Hajra, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. This three-minute video tells the story behind the renovations at a local fine arts organization and how it became a reality due to a low interest loan from AAACF.
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.
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:
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.
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.