News & Event
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Many thanks to everyone who stopped by for our Community Open House on October 10th! In addition to the busy Open House, we hosted two dedications and two preview events, resulting in 350+ people seeing our enhanced space to serve Washtenaw County. We are grateful to the donors who saw an opportunity to enhance our capacity for philanthropic education and community meetings. Check out our Facebook album for more photos from the Open House. We hope to see you more in 2018!
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.