News & Event
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.