Supporting an Inclusive Vision for the City of Pontiac
This story was originally published in the Fall 2020 REPORT Newsletter.
In recent years, community members in Pontiac, a city that’s home to 60,000, have spearheaded redevelopment efforts. Pontiac is a resilient and impassioned community, and its network of grass-roots organizations, advocacy groups, businesses, government leaders, and nonprofits have long been working to improve the quality of life for residents and change negative and uninformed perceptions about the city.
In early 2020, the Community Foundation joined with eight other funders to launch the Pontiac Funders Collaborative. Together, they are working in close partnership with residents, civic leaders, K-12 leaders, business executives, university leaders, and nonprofit executives to build a shared, community-driven vision for the city that ensures all residents and community members have the access, opportunities, and
resources needed to thrive.
This cross-sector partnership is working to develop a common agenda, align efforts, and use common measures of success to improve outcomes related to quality of life, prosperity, and education. The coronavirus pandemic has created a greater sense of urgency as Pontiac organizations work together to respond to both urgent and long-term needs.
As the partnership grows, the Pontiac Funders Collaborative has begun to distribute funds in the community. In April, $150,000 was provided to critical human service agencies to support their COVID-19 emergency aid efforts. In June, the Collaborative established a Small Business Relief Fund, which provided $200,000 in grants to 56 Pontiac businesses with 10 employees or fewer, ranging from auto repair shops to barbers to fitness centers.
Looking ahead, the Pontiac Collaborative intends to focus on local nonprofit organizations through a capacity-building grantmaking program designed to strengthen skills among leaders and organizations in the city. To that end, a first round of grants was awarded in June; 16 Pontiac-based nonprofits received a total of $100,000.
Several organizations that received capacity grants included Centro Multicultural La Familia, which provides comprehensive family support services primarily for residents of Hispanic descent; Growing Pontiac, which aims to strengthen the local food system in Pontiac and surrounding neighborhoods; and the Dr. Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic, which provides health and dental services to low-income individuals, the uninsured, and other vulnerable populations.
The Collaborative’s work is made possible by the financial support and active participation of the Ballmer Group, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Flagstar Bank Foundation, General Motors, the New Economy Initiative, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the Tauber Family Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation, and the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation.
The Collaborative will continue to be informed by the collective impact process and the individuals, stakeholders, organizations, and institutions that support the vision for a community where everyone has equitable opportunities to thrive.