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Making Investments Across The Region

September 22nd, 2014 Back to Browse Stories

Helping Donors Do the Most Good with Their Charitable Dollars

More than $50 million in grants are made by the Community Foundation each year to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, Livingston and St. Clair counties. We have knowledge and information about organizations and programs that are making a difference throughout our region, and we help donors do the most good with their charitable dollars.

Here are a few recent grants of note:

First Step–Western Wayne County Project on Domestic Assault – Plymouth
As its name suggests, this organization was originally focused on reducing domestic and sexual violence in western Wayne County, but due to cuts by other organizations, Detroit residents now constitute more than 31 percent of its crisis callers and 46 percent of children serviced. An award of $25,000 from the Community Foundation will make it possible to hire a volunteer coordinator to recruit, train and supervise more volunteers to expand the organization’s assault response program. Last year First Step responded to more than 6,700 calls and worked with 300 clients on assault responses. The crisis line has translation services that encompass 150 languages.

Friends of Detroit Rowing – Detroit
After-school activities are essential for positive youth development. This organization, whose roots date back to the 1839 founding of the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle, is stepping up its learn-to-row program for city youth. Thanks to a $38,000 grant from the Community Foundation, Friends of Detroit Rowing will be able to give more students their first experience on the beautiful waterway in their own backyard — the Detroit River — offering a healthy extracurricular option to kids who need one.

Community Housing Network – Troy
Poor families often face homelessness due to unexpected, temporary financial hardship. An involuntary reduction of work schedule, illness, divorce or the death of a family member can be enough to upset their fragile balance and cause eviction from a rental home. This, in turn, can become a spiral of long-term consequences and hardship. A $50,000 grant over two years will help 30 families in Oakland County bridge an unexpected rent gap for up to three months while receiving wrap-around services such as financial education and advocacy.

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum – Ann Arbor
A grant from our Detroit Auto Dealers Charitable Foundation Fund allowed this educational children’s museum to work with the Department of Child and Family Life at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to develop and deliver programming for hospitalized children and their siblings. “Healing Through Hands-On Science,” funded by a grant from the Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation, offers fun, interactive science and health-based activities at Mott and the museum. The program helps children learn while they are missing school, and enables them to enjoy respite from the stress of being in the hospital. Now a year old, the program has proven so successful that Mott and museum staff are presenting the results of their partnership at a national conference of hands-on science museums.

Mercy Education Project – Detroit
For generations, passing the GED high school equivalency test has been a way to continue an interrupted education and improve one’s economic prospects. This year, a new, more challenging GED was unveiled, and it is exclusively computer-based. To help low-income women bridge this digital divide and gain the higher level of skill and knowledge they’ll need to obtain GED certification, the Mercy Education Project has obtained new, donated computers and iPads and other educational technology. With $50,000 in support from the Community Foundation, they will integrate improved technology training into all their basic educational curricula and programs.

Cleary University – Howell
The Arthur Secunda Museum at Cleary University received a $15,000 grant to offer weekly art classes throughout the academic year for foster care youth in Livingston County. The Arthur Secunda Museum, dedicated to exhibiting the work of an important Michigan artist, is Livingston County’s largest art venue. Three artists teach the classes, which cover the fundamentals of a wide range of artistic genres from self portrait to landscape to abstract art. The goals of the program are to provide the students with an outlet for self expression and to engage with others in foster care. The year of art lessons will culminate in a June exhibition of the students’ work that will be open to the public.

Play Place for Autistic Children – Sterling Heights
Young adults with autism have few programs available to them beyond high school. With their talents untapped — often including a talent for artistic expression — the vast majority of these young people do not find a vocation or employment. A grant of $50,000 from the Community Foundation is helping the Play Place for Autistic Children build a studio and specialized spaces for teaching art, social development and financial literacy. Families throughout southeast Michigan can pay a monthly fee to enroll their children in the Play Place’s wide range of therapeutic, educational and entertaining
programming designed to enhance self-sufficiency and improve participants’ quality of life.