Because of donors who have supported their charitable priorities through the Community Foundation for more than 28 years, the organization is strong and stable and has continued to evolve to meet our community’s changing needs. In recent years, trustees, staff, and trusted friends have carefully reviewed and revised the Community Grantmaking Program, which makes grants from endowments that can be broadly applied to make a difference in Charlevoix County.
In 2020, this meant the introduction of a new way of making grants to community partners, with a shift to 6 unique grant cycles, arranged by topic area, and offered throughout the year, instead of the two general cycles previously offered in spring and fall each year. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the Community Foundation pivoted again and introduced an ongoing Urgent Needs Cycle. The simple application was open to organizations who help individuals in need of access to food, shelter, safety, healthcare, mental health services, utility assistance and more. This ongoing Urgent Needs cycle will continue for the foreseeable future. Then in June, through the newly created Organizational Support cycle, the Community Foundation provided general operating support for the first time ever to many nonprofit partners experiencing the abrupt decline in revenue due to pandemic shutdowns and restrictions.
We expected that the new approach would: provide improved impact over time, especially in the areas of youth and the environment; allow staff to remain accessible to nonprofit partners; offer greater opportunity for donor advisors and community members to give back close to home; and create space for staff to spend more time learning alongside nonprofit partners and sharing that learning for coordinated action in Charlevoix County. While 2020 was a year interrupted by a pandemic, we also saw progress toward many of these expected outcomes.
Based on feedback from community partners, coupled with experiences from the implementation of the new Community Grantmaking Program, the Community Foundation has made adjustments for the 2021 Grantmaking Program. Most critically, all cycles in 2021, except ongoing cycles, will allow requests for general support in addition to requests for projects. We recognize that the need for general operating support remains high and that circumstances related to the pandemic make planning for projects difficult. Applications will be streamlined to simplify the request process. The Environment and Land Use cycle deadline has been moved to March 1, 2021. The Sustaining What Works cycle (held in November 2020) has been removed from the 2021 schedule and may return in a future year.
Below is an outline of our 2021 grant focus areas and new grant cycle deadlines. We will host 2 virtual grant information sessions in January and February 2021 for nonprofits and the public to learn more and ask questions about the 2021 Grantmaking Program. More information can be found using the links below or by emailing Ashley Cousens (email@example.com).
On our how to apply page, there is a short summary for each grant cycle, plus links for grant guidelines and criteria for each cycle. Use these links to learn about our SUN Fund granting program, and to see a list of recent grants and scholarships made by the Community Foundation.