The Co-Ette Club – which was established in 1941 to nurture future generations of Black, female leaders and philanthropists – recently established an agency endowment fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The Community Foundation manages more than 230 of these agency endowments for small nonprofits throughout our region. Photo courtesy of: the Co-Ette Club
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.
Longtime community leader Mary-Agnes Miller Davis founded the organization, “to develop teenage girls into well-mannered, cultured, and empowered women who could make a difference in society,” according to club records. She ushered in generations of Co-Ettes, as well as adult volunteers who have carried her mission forward since she passed away in 2001.
To honor Miller Davis and with an eye toward the future, the club recently established an agency endowment fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
An endowment fund is part of a pool of assets that are invested for long-term growth. A portion of the assets is made available for the organization’s charitable purposes each year. An increasing amount of support will be available from the fund as the assets and investment returns grow in perpetuity. The Community Foundation manages more than 230 of these agency endowments for small nonprofits throughout 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.”
The Co-Ette Club’s membership is kept at an intimate size so the girls, who are in grades 10-12, can receive personalized coaching from adult volunteers – all of whom are former Co-Ettes themselves. The self-governing, intergenerational organization gives the girls hands-on experience with event planning, budgeting, parliamentary procedure, leadership, volunteerism, and fundraising.
Its annual charity ball raises funds for the United Negro College Fund, the Detroit Public Library Friends Foundation, the Giant Step Metro Teen Conference and other causes.
“We’re showing the young ladies the power of their own personal networks, and how they can make a meaningful contribution,” Jones says. “It’s a living, breathing example of showing that you can start small, come together with like-minded individuals and accomplish great things.”
Make an Impact
Visit cfsem.org/agency-endowment to learn more about how the Community Foundation can help nonprofits develop a sustainable source of funding with an agency endowment.
This story first appeared in the Fall 2022 REPORT Newsletter.