Building a Brighter Future

Fall 2022 REPORT

A gift to the Southeast Michigan Forever Fund enables the Community Foundation to address our community’s most pressing needs and promising opportunities, both now and for generations to come.

Message from the president

As we close out the year, we find ourselves in a good position to honor our past and chart the course for our collective future. One of my goals is to be a conscientious steward of our resources, embracing operational excellence with the future needs of our residents and donors in mind.

This includes the next generation of philanthropists who will continue our work to make southeast Michigan a desirable place to live, work and play.

Our world can be a grim place, and we face many challenges. But we aren’t powerless. Our region is resilient, and we have a history of proactively working for solutions. In the context of these challenges, our work together means more now than ever.

We are thankful for your continued support and look forward to 2023 with determination and hope.

Read the full message


Music can be a powerful tool for change, says flutist in revival of Malcolm X opera

Recent Community Foundation support helped the Detroit Opera stage a new production of Anthony Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, part of the multiyear “Opera of Our Time” initiative, which will feature diverse, contemporary stories and deepen community engagement. Nearly 70% of ticket-buying households for the show were new or had not attended in 10 years or more, driven in part by complementary community conversations about diversity in the arts. 

Read More

Youth Advisory Committee engages young leaders after Oxford shooting

Gracie Grady was in a unique position to engage young people after the tragedy in November of 2021. She chaired the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s Youth Advisory Committee, known as “the YAC.” The YAC helps the Community Foundation engage youth voices in shaping the future. During the past 30-plus years, its middle school-, high school- and college-age advisors have recommended nearly 200 grants that promote youth leadership throughout our region, totaling more than $1.3 million.

They envisioned a special round of grantmaking that recognized gun violence as a systemic issue, with disproportionate effects on youth in communities of color.

Learn more about their leadership


Detroit tree canopy study has deep roots

When former Capuchin Brother Rick Samyn — who founded Earthworks Urban Farm in Detroit — took his vow of poverty in 1988, he used his wealth to establish a field of interest fund with the Community Foundation. The endowment created a permanent source of funding that, nearly 35 years later, continues to support activities that help maintain the integrity of southeast Michigan’s environment. 

The Genesis Fund for Environmental Integrity was among four Community Foundation funds tapped to support a grant to American Forests that began in October 2021 and will last through March 2023. American Forests is using the grant to analyze the costs and benefits of planting 15,000 trees per year in Detroit, particularly in neighborhoods with a history of disinvestment. 



Co-Ette Club creates sustainable future by establishing agency endowment fund

Philanthropy is in the Co-Ette Club’s DNA.  The nonprofit – which was established in 1941 to nurture future generations of Black, female leaders and philanthropists – is a renowned organization in the metro Detroit African-American community. With an eye toward the future, the club recently established an agency endowment fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

“Our goal is to ensure the club’s future and that all of the work that has been done and the love that has been poured into the organization over the past 80 years continues on past us,” Co-Ette Club Executive Administrator Carla Jones says. “It’s a legacy.”

Read More about Co-Ette Club

Young professional advisors like Susan Strunk are key to unlocking the next generation of charitable giving, which will continue to create positive, permanent change and improve the quality of life throughout southeast Michigan. 

The Community Foundation is committed to building relationships with these young legal and financial advisors and providing giving options that are relevant to all their clients, regardless of age or wealth.

Read the interview with Susan


New Economy Initiative scales model for inclusive small business growth 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many small business owners and entrepreneurs struggled to navigate relief programs and lacked access to the basic technical services and resources that are critical to starting or expanding a business. Those who persevered now struggle with staffing and supply chain issues, as well as historic inflation few are equipped to handle.

As a result, many have closed their doors, with a disproportionate impact on underserved local economies and minority small business owners. However, for more than a decade, the New Economy Initiative and its partners have had success in creating a small business support network in larger urban centers, including Detroit, which today are faring better than those communities without an NEI presence. 

Read more on NEI’s impact

We honor trustees for their years of service

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan appreciates the commitment and dedicated service of four trustees who have completed their time on the board.

Kouhaila G. Hammer, CEO and president of Dearborn-based architecture firm Ghafari Associates, joined the board in 2013 and served on the Audit Committee.

Michael T. Monahan — who was president of Comerica Bank from 1992-1999 before he retired to form Monahan Enterprises, LLC, a consulting and investment company — joined the board in 2002. He served on the Finance Committee and the DMC Foundation Board. Monahan will continue to serve as a nonvoting, honorary Community Foundation board member.

Pamela E. Rodgers — former owner of Rodgers Chevrolet in Woodhaven, which operated from 1996-2017 and was among the top woman- and African American-owned businesses in Michigan — joined the board in 2001. She served as a member of the Audit and Program and Distribution Committees and on the DMC Foundation Board. 

Alan E. Schwartz, a founding partner of the Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP law firm, became a founding member of the board in 1984. Schwartz will continue to serve as a nonvoting, honorary board member.

We thank them for their commitment to improving the quality of life in our region and wish them well.

CultureSource leader Omari Rush, Ruth Ellis Center receive awards

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan awarded two of the region’s most prestigious nonprofit honors during its June board meeting. CultureSource Executive Director Omari Rush received the 2022 Mariam C. Noland Award for Nonprofit Leadership and Ruth Ellis Center won the 2022 Richard F. Huegli Award for Program Excellence. 

The Community Foundation has a long history with both recipients, one arts-focused and one human services-focused. They represent key parts of the nonprofit sector that the Community Foundation supports and demonstrate how people with vision can make a positive, permanent impact in our region. 

Noland Award-winner Omari Rush was honored for his efforts to nurture creative and cultural expression and build inclusivity in southeast Michigan’s arts sector. As executive director of CultureSource since 2017, Rush assists artists and more than 170 arts and culture nonprofits with their shared needs for capacity-building, advocacy and marketing resources. Rush also has been a vital partner to the Community Foundation, co-managing the COVID-19 Arts and Creative Community Assistance Fund, and consulting on the $100 million Wilson Arts and Culture Investment.

Since its founding in 1999, Huegli Award-winner Ruth Ellis Center has become a national innovator in addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ young people of color experiencing homelessness and other barriers to success. Ruth Ellis Center helps the individuals it serves to address these challenges and create a positive future where they feel safe and supported. Ruth Ellis Center offers trauma-informed resources that include outreach and safety-net services, skill-building workshops, housing, and health and HIV-prevention programs. The Community Foundation was one of Ruth Ellis Center’s first funders. 

Watch Their Acceptance Videos

Make A Donation

A gift to the Southeast Michigan Forever Fund enables the Community Foundation to address our community’s most pressing needs and promising opportunities, both now and for generations to come. Gifts to this fund make an impact for today, tomorrow and forever. Interested in a monthly donation?