Honoring Regional Leaders with Nonprofit Leadership and Program Excellence Awards

In General

Over $17 million in grants also announced at the annual June board meeting

 DETROIT, Mich., July 10, 2017 – The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan announced that Rick Sperling was selected as the recipient of the 2017 Mariam C. Noland Award for Nonprofit Leadership and Neutral Zone was selected as the recipient of the 2017 Richard F. Huegli Award for Program Excellence. Both awards were presented at the Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees Meeting on Tuesday, June 27.

Named after the Community Foundation’s first and current president, the Mariam C. Noland Award for Nonprofit Leadership recognizes a nonprofit president or CEO in southeast Michigan whose service exemplifies the importance of leadership in his or her organization and the wider nonprofit community.

Rick Sperling is the Founder and President of Mosaic Youth Theatre in Detroit, an innovative after-school singing and acting program that empowers young people to create positive changes in their lives. Sperling founded Mosaic in 1992 to address gaps in the Metro Detroit arts education.

“Mariam Noland has been an inspiration and a role model for civic engagement in Detroit,” says Sperling. “I am incredibly honored to have an award with her name connected to it, because I think the world of her and of the Community Foundation.”

The Richard F. Huegli Award for Program Excellence identifies a nonprofit that reflects Mr. Huegli’s, a former director of the Community Foundation, high standards in human services programming and belief in human potential.

The Neutral Zone was founded by teens, to provide a venue for needed social, cultural, educational, recreational, and creative opportunities for young people in Ann Arbor area and  to host high quality, youth-driven programs.

“It’s a huge honor to be selected,” says Lori Roddy, Executive Director of Neutral Zone. “We’re super excited and grateful to be recognized. Neutral Zone is a really strong leader in the field of youth development and youth programs in southeast Michigan and the award reaffirms that we provide leadership for all and that we take that mentorship role really serious.”

“Both of our award winners exemplify effective leadership and model citizenship in their respective communities,” says Mariam Noland, President of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “We are very happy to have Rick and the Neutral Zone team working to make our communities safer, vibrant, and more welcoming to all.”

In addition to the annual awards, the Community Foundation distributed over $17 million in grants the second quarter of 2017 to a diverse array of nonprofit organizations and programs benefitting the seven-county region of southeast Michigan.

“The range of awarded grants this quarter span across an incredible diverse landscape of nonprofit organizations,” says Katie Brisson, Vice President of Program at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “We are excited to see the impact each grant can have on the communities served by each organization.”

Among the grants awarded were:

  • American Civil Liberties Union Fund of Michigan – $10,000 to support the Friendly Caller program, designed to combat social isolation experienced by older LGBT adults
  • Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation – $75,000 to conduct an impact evaluation of the State Innovation Model on the health of residents of Washtenaw and Livingston counties
  • City of Brighton – $11,000 to support The Story of Us, a storytelling concept aimed at encouraging artistic expression and educating the public
  • City of Chelsea – $25,000 to design Letts Linear Park
  • Creative Many Michigan Inc. – $50,000 to support AaronAsk, an online membership platform for young artists
  • Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation – $75,000 to support 75 youth to participate in Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Summer employment program
  • Detroit Food and Entrepreneurship Academy – $30,000 to support a summer entrepreneurship program that develops the leadership capacity of Detroit high school students
  • Detroit Institute for Children – $15,000 to support a summer learning program for children with special needs
  • Detroit Institute of Arts – $80,000 to support two museum exhibitions aimed at aligning the racial and ethnic diversity of the museum audience with that of metro Detroit
  • Detroit PAL Inc. – $4,000 to support the maintenance and improvement of baseball diamonds at St. Hedwig Recreation Center
  • Detroit Parent Network – $62,500 to launch of the organization’s new neighborhood based delivery structure in Detroit
  • Escuela Avancemos! Academy – $5,250 to support a student leadership council for fourth- and fifth-grade school students
  • Focus: HOPE – $75,000 to support the restructure and enhancement of a model workforce readiness and educational advancement program
  • Friendship Academy – $5,000 to expand of UMatter Week, which are spirit weeks designed to raise awareness and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues in metro-Detroit high schools
  • Jefferson East Inc. – $55,000 to support redevelopment projects for a tax increment financing district in the East Jefferson corridor
  • Macomb Community College Foundation – $25,000 to support the Place, Race & Class: Community Development through Civic Engagement series
  • Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion – $60,000 to support a community engagement component of the Summer ’67 project
  • Midtown Detroit Inc. – $50,000 to support artist and performer engagement in DLECTRICITY, a free nighttime art and light festival in Midtown Detroit
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit – $40,000 to support programming developed by the inaugural Ford Curatorial Fellows
  • Neutral Zone Inc. – $20,550 to support the development of Queer Youth Stories, a digital storytelling and dialogue project for gay-straight Alliances in southeast Michigan
  • Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency – $43,365 to support a leadership training program for the 30 member organizations of the Southeast Michigan Regional Senior Collaborative
  • Pope Francis Center – $88,050 to build organizational capacity to better serve homeless individuals in downtown Detroit
  • Regents of University of Michigan – $30,000 to support the University of Michigan School of Social Work to partner with Hannan Foundation on a pilot theatre program for older adults
  • State of Michigan – $10,000 to construct a nature play area and an accessible trail at the Eddy Discover Center
  • Wayne State University – $34,000 to create infrastructure for a new on-campus food pantry to serve food-insecure students

Included in the totals for the quarter are grants made by supporting organizations of the Community Foundation as well as grants recommended by donors who have established charitable funds with us. The Community Foundation works with individuals, families and businesses to maximize the impact of their charitable dollars and fund programs and projects that create lasting, positive change in our region.


 About the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development, and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed nearly $902 million through more than 60,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties. For more information, please visit