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.