It is hard to believe that the first quarter of 2022 is nearly over and spring is upon us. Looking back for a moment, 2021 was more challenging than 2020 in many ways yet the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan had an outstanding year.
We continued to get funding in the hands of area organizations to help serve communities across the seven counties of southeast Michigan. Grants totaled a high of approximately $101 million. We also set a record for new gifts with $230 million donated, bringing our total assets to over $1.3 billion. For this, and to everyone who has supported the Community Foundation over the years, we are so grateful.
Stories of Impact
Building Financial Resources for Nonprofits
In the early ‘90s, the Community Foundation’s Van Dusen Endowment Challenge was initiated as a joint effort with The Kresge Foundation to build endowment funds to benefit area nonprofits. The Challenge honored the late Richard C. Van Dusen, who was a corporate executive, civic leader, and Kresge Foundation trustee widely respected for his efforts on behalf of the metropolitan Detroit community. Richard’s wife, Barbara, serves on the Community Foundation Board of Trustees.
Transforming Public Spaces
Public spaces are powerful.
They unite people from diverse backgrounds and inspire community. They provide opportunities for healthy activities and relaxation. They give young people safe places to play and explore. They improve our mental and physical well-being.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, public spaces became a popular escape from isolation and anxiety. While many people poured into parks and playgrounds, trails, and waterways, the pandemic also highlighted a disparity in access for low-income residents, communities of color, and people with disabilities. The need to create equitable, inclusive public spaces grew more urgent than ever.
Improving Social Interaction for Older Adults
When older adults are lonely or can’t be cared for at home during the day, adult day programs can help. These programs can allow them to stay at home longer and socialize while getting the care they need. Day programs also give caregivers the rest they need to reduce stress and prevent burnout.
For many, but particularly for older adults, isolation became a significant issue with the onset of COVID-19. According to a report released in late 2021 by the AARP Foundation and the United Health Foundation, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a rise in social isolation and loneliness, reaching epidemic proportions. Two-thirds of U.S. adults report experiencing social isolation and more than half (66 percent) agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused their anxiety level to increase, yet many are not turning to anyone for help. Key signs to identify if someone is at risk for social isolation are access to food, healthcare, transportation, and other vital resources.
Former Mayor Archer Continues Impact on College Students and Detroit Residents
This spring marks a major milestone for the former Detroit mayor’s Dennis W. Archer Scholarship Fund. Since 2001, nearly $2 million in scholarships have been provided to minority students at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. For the past 20 years, more than 400 Archer Scholar awards have been granted.
Dennis Archer established the fund because he wanted to help students who were experiencing the same challenges he faced during his college years. Dennis knew it was difficult to balance classes along with work and family and that it was especially daunting for minority and lower-income students. He wanted his “Archer Scholar” fund to serve as a vital link to assuring academic success by helping to ease the burden on students who might otherwise be forced to drop out of college.
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Invests in Southeast Michigan Arts and Culture
In late 2021, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced a nearly $100 million commitment to transform the financial strength and long-term viability of southeast Michigan’s arts and culture community through the establishment of programs and endowments with the Community Foundation.
The Wilson Foundation made the same investment in Western New York. There it also focuses grants to honor the wishes of its late namesake, Grosse Pointe businessman Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., who once owned the Buffalo Bills. Combined, the Foundation invested $200 million for arts and culture organizations.
Youth Advisory Committee Focuses on Mental Health
The playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Clearly, he hadn’t met anyone on the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
These young people, famously known as the “YAC-ers” (pronounced “yack-ers”), have recommended nearly 200 Community Foundation grants that serve youth in the Michigan community since the initiative’s launch in 1991. The YAC brings together youth from across the region to make permanent positive change on causes that are close to themselves and their peers. The Community Foundation has boldly and creatively opened doors to young people to add youth voices and perspectives to philanthropy. The passion and dedication of this generation of youth may be more important now than ever.