News & Event
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 email@example.com; Neel Hajra, President & CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org, Michael Miller, Regional Chief Mission Officer for St. Joseph Mercy Health System at email@example.com, and Brett Lenart, Interim Director Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development at firstname.lastname@example.org.