Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation

For good. For ever.

Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Isabella County, now and for generations to come, by attracting and holding permanent endowed funds from a wide range of donors, addressing needs through grant making and providing leadership on key community issues.

Nonprofit Center Closer to Goal

Two weeks ago, Jae Evans, CEO of Isabella Bank Corporation, stood up during Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation’s annual breakfast event and announced that Isabella Bank would match dollar for dollar the next $60,000 raised in the campaign for the Strickler Nonprofit Center. Since that announcement, $27,125 has been matched, bringing the total raised to $835,844.

 A group of nonprofit organizations focused on addressing poverty in Isabella County announced back in April that they planned to raise at least $1 million to make permanent a nonprofit center located at 1114 W. High Street in Mt. Pleasant. During the September 11th breakfast, Executive Director Amanda Schafer, and United Way’s CEO Annie Sanders, told the story of leasing the building from Victory Christian Church and transitioning it into space for at least four local charitable organizations serving those living in or near poverty.

Community Compassion Network, Isabella County Restoration House, Clothing INC, and The Care Store provide critical services - food, shelter, clothing, and personal care items - and have been located under one roof since last fall. Long term, these partners and others are also committed to reducing overall poverty levels in Isabella County. Charlie Burke, a volunteer with the Center from the start, also shared his vision. “The Center will coordinate the development and implementation of services to train individuals with the necessary potential abilities to find, perform and keep employment,” Charlie said.

Jan Strickler agreed back in April to make a lead gift to name the Center in memory of her husband, Bill. During the recent breakfast, Schafer shared that the fundraising team had decided to name the facility after both of them. Tearfully, Strickler joined Schafer on stage and encouraged those in attendance to reach out to an agency within the Center in order to volunteer. She then proudly declared the total raised to date was $781,594. “Several of you in the room have made gifts, and for that we thank you,” Strickler said. “We’d like to challenge you and the greater Isabella County community to help us raise $220,000 more between now and #GivingTuesday, a national day of charitable giving planned for November 27th.” Evans was the first to respond, pledging on behalf of the bank to match dollar for dollar the next $60,000 raised for the campaign.

Community members may support the Strickler Center by contributing to a fund established for this purpose at the Community Foundation. Donations to the Center may be made at mpacf.org, and checks may be mailed to MPACF, PO Box 1283, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48804. Follow “William and Janet Strickler Nonprofit Center” on Facebook for regular updates.

Community Foundation Highlights Accomplishments and Makes Special Announcements During Annual Breakfast

Two hundred and fifty community members gathered Tuesday morning for an update on Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation’s accomplishments over the last year in endowment building, grantmaking, and community leadership.

In total, the Community Foundation ended 2017 with 287 permanent endowment funds. To these funds, as well as to a few special project funds at the Foundation, contributions in 2017 totaled more than any year prior - nearly $2.8 million. Ten new funds were established and gifts ranged from $5 to six figures. With an annualized investment return of 14.2%, the Foundation ended 2017 with nearly $21 million in assets.

“The Community Foundation allows anyone and everyone to become a philanthropist, and there is no doubt that every gift, large or small, when properly invested, can enhance the lives of others,” said Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair Lynn Pohl.

Nearly $600,000 in grants and scholarships were awarded in 2017. The largest sums supported education, human services, and sports/recreation. There were also significant resources awarded to causes related to community and economic development, health, arts and culture, and volunteerism. Linda Morey, Grant Review Committee Chair, shared some of the Foundation’s efforts to support capacity building among local nonprofit organizations through partnerships across the region and with CMU’s Nonprofit Leadership Student Alliance.

Since 1990, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $6 million in student scholarships and grants to schools, local governments and charities. “That’s $6 million granted while also maintaining the value of every endowed gift ever given to the Foundation!” exclaimed Scholarship Committee Chair Cheryl Gaudard.

Volunteers dedicated more than 6,000 hours of their time in service to the local community through the Foundation in 2017. To make decisions about grantmaking, many of these volunteers look for relevant and local data on areas where community improvement is most needed. The Foundation partnered with CMU’s Center for Applied Research and Rural Studies to conduct a community needs assessment this spring. A total of 531 Isabella County residents were interviewed by telephone or completed print surveys sent through the mail. Assessment results will be shared soon. The Foundation’s Board hopes to provide avenues for community dialogue about the most concerning issues, and ultimately to build collaborations to mobilize residents around those issues.

Community Relations Chair Marcie Otteman Grawburg highlighted the recent launch of Epicenter Mt. Pleasant, a digital magazine funded by a coalition of Isabella County institutions that focuses on stories of talent, investment, innovation and emerging assets. Epicenter went live on August 16th and features stories about bold startups, emerging places, catalytic talent, transformative projects, and ideas across Isabella County. Grawburg encouraged breakfast participants to subscribe at bit.ly/SubscribeToEpicenter.

The latter half of today’s program focused on updates related to the Nonprofit Center, the location of this year’s breakfast. The Foundation’s Executive Director Amanda Schafer, and new United Way CEO Annie Sanders, told the story of leasing the building from Victory Christian Church and transitioning the building at 1114 W. High Street into space for four local charitable organizations serving those living in or near poverty. Community Compassion Network, Isabella County Restoration House, Clothing INC, and The Care Store provide critical services--food, shelter, clothing, and personal care items--and have been located under one roof since last fall. Long term, these partners and others are also committed to reducing overall poverty levels in Isabella County. Charlie Burke, a volunteer with the Center from the start, also shared his vision for a Jobs Academy. “The Center will coordinate the development and implementation of services to train individuals with the necessary potential abilities to find, perform and keep employment,” Charlie said.

In April, a fundraising team comprised of Nonprofit Center supporters announced a campaign to raise at least $1 million to purchase the building from Victory Christian Church to make the Center permanent. It was also announced that Janet Strickler had agreed to make a lead gift to name the Center in memory of her husband, William. Similar exciting announcements were made during this morning’s breakfast. Schafer shared that the fundraising team has decided to name the facility after both William and Janet. Tearfully, Strickler joined Schafer on stage and encouraged those in attendance to reach out to an agency within the Center in order to volunteer. She then proudly declared the total raised to date was $781,593.67. “Several of you in the room have made gifts, and for that we thank you,” Strickler said. “We’d like to challenge you and the greater Isabella County community to help us raise $220,000 more between now and #GivingTuesday, a national day of charitable giving planned for November 27th.” Jae Evans of Isabella Bank was the first to respond, pledging on behalf of the bank to match dollar for dollar the next $60,000 raised for the campaign.

Community members are asked to support the Strickler Center by contributing to a fund established for this purpose at the Foundation. Donations to the Center may be made at mpacf.org, and checks may be mailed to MPACF, PO Box 1283, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48804. Breakfast participants were encouraged to follow the Strickler Center on Facebook for regular updates on volunteer opportunities and fundraising milestones.

Questions about the Community Foundation and the announcements shared today should be directed to Amanda Schafer at (989) 773-7322. Questions about the direct services provided within the Strickler Center should be directed to the relevant partner agencies. Find links at mpacf.org.

Community Foundation Awards $98,900 in Scholarships

The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation (MPACF) awarded 96 scholarships totaling $98,900 to local students during a reception on May 31, 2018. Established by individuals, businesses, and organizations wanting to help local students achieve their educational goals, most scholarships support high school students planning to attend an accredited college, university or trade school in the fall. Each scholarship is unique and reflects the values and interests of those who established it.

For more information, or to support any one of these scholarships, contact Amanda Schafer, Executive Director, at (989) 773-7322 or visit www.mpacf.org.

The 2018 Community Foundation Scholarship Recipients are:

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Photos from the reception may be found on the MPACF Facebook page.

Public Invited to Respond to Online Community Needs Assessment

What does our community need? Where is the greatest potential to improve the quality of life in Isabella County? The public is invited to participate in an Isabella County Community Needs Assessment.

The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation has contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Rural Studies (CARRS) at Central Michigan University (CMU) to complete a survey of Isabella County residents. CARRS was founded in 1995 to assist community groups needing the social science research expertise of CMU faculty, staff, and students. CARRS partnered with the Community Foundation to develop the community needs assessment with input from several local leaders.

A random sample of Isabella County residents was contacted over the course of the last few months via telephone and mail, and now the public as a whole is invited to respond to the online version of the survey. The survey can be accessed here and will remain open for two weeks. All responses will remain confidential, and no information that could identify individuals or households will ever be published. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete. Those who have completed the survey via telephone or mail need not respond again. 

A summary report of the assessment findings will be shared with the community this fall.

Foundation Awards 96 Scholarships

The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation (MPACF) will award 96 scholarships totaling more than $98,900 to local students during a Scholarship Reception on May 31, 2018. Established by individuals, businesses, and organizations wanting to help local students achieve their educational goals, most scholarships support high school students planning to attend an accredited college, university or trade school in the fall. Each scholarship is unique and reflects the values and interests of those who established it.

For more information or to support any one of these scholarships, contact Brittany Sherrill, Program Officer, at (989) 773-7322.

The 2018 Community Foundation Scholarship Recipients are:

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Foundation RFP for Investment Management Services

The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation (MPACF) has more than $20,000,000 in endowed assets and is requesting proposals for custody and investment management services from qualified financial service organizations. Proposals must be submitted to our office by 5:00pm on June 4, 2018 in the format provided in the Request for Proposals (RFP).

Our timeline is as follows:

April 2                         RFP posted online at www.mpacf.org

June 4                         Proposals submitted to MPACF

June 19                        Finance Committee determines 3-5 providers to invite for presentations

July/August                 Presentations from providers to Finance Committee

September 18              Finance Committee recommendation made

October 25                  Board of Trustees selects service provider(s)

One original proposal with signatures, and ten (10) additional copies for review by our Finance Committee, must be submitted.

Some of our assets have been managed by Fund Evaluation Group (FEG) since 2004, and by Isabella Bank/Financial Counselors, Inc. (FCI) since 2011. It is our policy to seek competitive proposals from investment management service providers every 5-7 years.

Community Foundation Surpasses $20 Million Milestone

Members of the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation (MPACF) Board of Directors recently celebrated a major milestone. With $2.6 million in contributions in 2017, the Community Foundation has surpassed $20 million in total assets.

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“We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone in our history. The fact that we have doubled our assets in just seven years speaks volumes about the generosity in our community, and the commitment that Isabella County residents are making to future generations,” said Jill Bourland, President. Community foundations bring together the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective charitable organizations dedicated to improving the lives of people in a particular geographic area. “The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation allows anyone and everyone to become a philanthropist, and there is no doubt that every gift, large or small, when properly invested, can enhance the lives of others,” added Mary Ann O’Neil, Vice President. MPACF’s investment returns exceeded 14% in 2017.

Holding assets across 275 endowment funds, the Community Foundation works to meet the charitable goals of donors as well as the most pressing needs in Isabella County. “We work with families, attorneys, and other professional advisors on gifts which maximize benefits for donors and critical organizations in Isabella County,” said Jan Strickler, Development Chair. Individuals and groups may contribute any amount of money to a fund through the Foundation, and the Foundation invests gifts for growth and income, using a portion to make grants in the community based on donor wishes and identified community needs. Since its inception in 1990, MPACF has awarded nearly $6 million in grants through its community impact, field-of-interest, donor advised, organization and scholarship endowment funds—all while maintaining the value of every gift ever given to the Foundation.

“When people give to the Community Foundation, they are creating a legacy. We are proud to have reached the $20 million mark, but we are not stopping there,” said Executive Director Amanda Schafer. “Over the next 40 years, the estimated transfer of wealth from one generation to the next in Isabella County is approximately $4 billion. We want to keep that money local. If just 5% of that projected transfer was designated for charities in our area, $200 million would be retained for people who live, work, and learn in our community. And, if that $200 million was endowed with MPACF, we could make $10 million available for area nonprofits every single year.”

Community foundations play a key role in identifying and solving community problems. “Look around our community,” said Al Kaufmann, Secretary. “So much of what you see and enjoy is, in part, a result of charitable giving: the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum, Woodland Hospice, City parks and trails, the Isabella Community Sportsplex, and the annual peacemaking awards in Mt. Pleasant Public Schools.” Many local organizations, such as Listening Ear, Women’s Aid, Art Reach, and Beal City Public Schools have funds with the Foundation. These organizations provide education, human services, health, recreation and youth development, all making our community a better place.

Bob Long, Past President commented, “More and more, we are focusing on our role as a community leader—convening residents around local issues, educating one another on community needs, and building partnerships to make the greatest impact possible.” While Foundation financial assets have grown, so too has momentum and the willingness to cultivate bold solutions to improve the quality of life for all in Isabella County. “We want to thank donors, volunteers, and our partner organizations who are a force for good in our community,” said Marcie Otteman Grawburg, Community Relations Chair. “And, we invite them to help us look for new and creative approaches, perspectives, and ideas to address what matters most to the people and community we serve.”

Community Foundation Sponsoring Isabella County Needs Assessment

What does our community need? Where is the greatest potential to improve the quality of life in Isabella County?

The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation has contracted with the Center for Applied Research and Rural Studies (CARRS) at Central Michigan University (CMU) to complete a survey of Isabella County residents as part of an effort to answer these questions. CARRS was founded in 1995 to assist community groups needing the social science research expertise of CMU faculty, staff, and students. CARRS partnered with the Community Foundation to develop the community needs assessment with input from several local leaders.

A random sample of Isabella County residents will be contacted over the course of the next few weeks, which means all households in Isabella County have an equal opportunity for participation in this research project. To maintain the scientific quality of the sample, we encourage all households that are contacted to participate. Some households will receive a telephone call from CARRS, and an adult member of the household will be asked to complete the survey over the telephone. Others will receive a print version of the survey through U.S. mail. All responses will remain confidential, and no information that could identify individuals or households will ever be published.

A summary report of the assessment findings will be shared with the community this fall.

Over one hundred Scholarships Available

The Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation (MPACF) is now accepting applications for more than one hundred (100) scholarships. Most are available to local students who will be completing their senior year of high school or GED this spring. There are also more than a dozen scholarship opportunities for students already enrolled in, or planning to return to, some form of higher education.  Frequently asked questions and a link to the online application system can be found at: mpacf.org.  The application deadline is Friday, March 2, 2018.

Since 1990, the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation (MPACF) has transformed the unique charitable dreams of individuals, families, and businesses into the reality of permanently endowed charitable funds that support a wide range of worthy causes in the community. One-third of the permanently endowed funds held by MPACF provide scholarships, making the Community Foundation a leader in awarding scholarships to deserving students in the local area. Last year, MPACF awarded 90 scholarships totally more than $87,250 to students in and around Isabella County (photo below).

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