News & Event
Prizes from $50,000–$500,000 for Innovative Projects by Washtenaw County (MI) Organizations & National Partners
Contact: Neel Hajra, 734.663.0401, firstname.lastname@example.org
President & CEO, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation
The largest competition dedicated to seniors in North America is launching at the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF). Vital Seniors: A Community Innovation Competition, a $2.5M initiative sponsored by the Glacier Hills Legacy Fund at AAACF, will support innovative projects designed to serve and protect our most vulnerable seniors and their caregivers. The competition is open to organizations in Washtenaw County, MI (and those with branches or partners here), and these local nonprofits are encouraged to partner with other local, regional and national nonprofits, governmental units, and companies.
Vital Seniors intends to spark innovative, actionable solutions to challenges faced by seniors, their families, and caregivers. AAACF is particularly interested in innovations addressing independent living support; safe/affordable housing; health; transportation/mobility; and caregivers.
The competition strengthens AAACF’s longstanding commitment to seniors and complements enhanced grantmaking for ongoing programs and services for seniors and their caregivers through its new $16M Glacier Hills Legacy Fund permanent endowment. By 2040, the number of adults age 60+ in Washtenaw County will more than double, as will the number of seniors in poverty. Life for everyone in 2040 will be shaped by how we respond now to the needs of the aging and local innovative efforts can serve as models for replication nationally.
Prize amounts will run from $50,000 up to a $500,000 grand prize, including the $250,000 Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Caregiver Prize. Separate prizes will be awarded to both small and large organizations. Up to 10 finalists will all be winners, as each will receive operational funding and assistance to build capacity through workshops, coach/mentor support, and technical support.
Proposed projects should…
• Solve a problem, resolve an unmet need, or improve on an existing program for seniors and their caregivers
• Maximize relationships between nonprofits and innovators
• Be replicable
• Mobilize outside investment into coordinated sustainability plans
• Include sectors that will enhance the quality of seniors’ lives
Vital Seniors Competition Timeline:
March 9 - deadline for letter of intent (info sessions are scheduled Feb. 19, Feb. 21 and March 2)
April 6 - distribution of proposal template for invited applicants
May 4 - deadline for 10-page proposal for invited applicants
June 8 - announcement of up to 10 finalists, which will each get $20,000 cash award and take part in capacity-building workshops in late June, July, August and September
October 11 - deadline for final project proposal
November - announcement of award winners
For more LOI, prize competition, and senior sector information, go to vitalseniorscomp.com.
June 21, 2017
Youth Council consists of ~25 diverse students from Ann Arbor public, private, and independent high schools who work together to better the lives of youth in Washtenaw County. At the 2017 Youth Council Year-End Reception, we celebrated the graduations of six of our Youth Council members.
Years on Youth Council: 4
What did you learn on YC: Youth Council has taught me to always value and consider the perspectives of others. It has taught me about the discrepancies in my community and the world. It has taught me that I have the power to make a difference.
Next Year: University of Michigan
Years on Youth Council: 3
Favorite Grant: Universal Access Playground grant. The size and scope of the grant maximized our impact on the community in a tangible result, for a cause that is eternally right.
Next Year: University of Michigan, LSA Honors Program
What did you learn on YC: I’ve been able to see how the need for the services that nonprofits provide stem directly from the failures of government. Seeing youth who don’t have the opportunities and things that I take for granted has definitely played a part in my decision to study public policy next year. In the future I’d like to help to solve the problems that many nonprofits have to address.
Next Year: George Washington University
Favorite Grant: Friends of the A2 Skatepark. Encouraging girls to learn to skateboard is such a unique program and we were able to see how successful it ended up being.
What did you learn on YC: YC has made me much more aware of the types of things our community needs. It has improved many skills of mine such as problem solving, debating, and public speaking, as well as taught me how powerful teen voices can be in the community.
Next Year: Emory University
Years of Youth Council: 2
Favorite Grant: Adapted Bike Camp, by LightUp Shine Now. It gives disabled kids the opportunity to be independent, which would feel amazing. I know I personally love being independent.
Favorite YC Memory: Pizza dinner with Youth Council!
Favorite Grant: Universal Access Playground grant
What did you learn on YC: Youth Council has taught me how to interact with people of different ages, backgrounds, and priorities. Engaging with the other members of the YC has taught me to be aware of my perspective and the perspectives of others.
Next Year: Colorado College
April 12, 2016
The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) just announced a new $1 million-dollar endowed scholarship fund, the Level the Playing Field Fund, created by an anonymous donor new to AAACF. As its name implies, the Level the Playing Field Fund is intended to create a more equitable means for students to succeed. The Fund will be administered under AAACF’s Community Scholarship Program.
The Community Scholarship Program (CSP) supports students from one or more of the following populations in Washtenaw County: (1) students from low-income families; (2) students of color; and/or (3) first-generation college students, meaning neither parent holds a college degree. The Level the Playing Field Fund requires that the students have financial need and gives preference to students from Washtenaw County public school systems.
Included in the gift is a $250,000 challenge grant to encourage the rest of the community to participate in this exciting effort. Every dollar contributed to a scholarship fund that includes financial need as a criterion qualifies for the matching 1:1 funds.
The initial cohort of Community Scholars, made possible largely by the Level the Playing Field Fund, was just announced at AAACF’s Annual Community meeting on April 11, 2016, at Washtenaw Community College. AAACF has provided more than $1M in scholarship support to WCC students, primarily through the Morse Barker Memorial Scholarship, which will also support some Community Scholars. AAACF President & CEO Neel Hajra commends the caliber and potential of the Community Scholars, selected by a volunteer committee of community leaders with extensive experience in higher education.
Hajra shares: “We are proud to announce the initial cohort for the AAACF Community Scholarship Program and are so grateful to a donor who wants to celebrate these student recipients who deserve to have their higher education aspirations supported and validated.” In addition to the scholarship funding, Hajra notes that the Community Scholars will be supported by a “Success Coach” who will help the students to navigate the college experience. AAACF is funding the Success Coach in the inaugural academic year through a partnership with Washtenaw Futures, Eastern Michigan University, and Washtenaw Community College.
The 2016 Community Scholars are Andrew Besford (Skyline High School HS); Savannah Ellington (Pioneer HS); Ray’Jon Williams-Jackson (Ypsilanti Community HS-AC Tech); Nyla Dew (Ypsilanti Community HS); Jeffrey Williams (Pioneer HS); Aazhane Hearon (Huron HS); Chelsea Hollins (Ypsilanti New Tech HS); Cristal Vazquez (Pioneer HS); Diana Bernal-Canseco (Ypsilanti Community HS-STEMM Middle College); Keitra Osler (Ypsilanti Community HS); Salamah Wadi (Pioneer HS).
“The Level the Playing Field Fund provides an important new source of targeted scholarship support for Washtenaw County students, and the incentive for others to contribute through the match makes it a truly community-based program,” Hajra declares. Although AAACF has been awarding scholarships for decades, Hajra says that this new program will “magnify our ability to ensure that students not only attend college, but graduate.”
Read about the announcement in the MLive.com article about the launch of the Challenge Grant & the AAACF Community Scholars awardees at the AAACF 2016 Annual Community Meeting!
AAACF has been enriching the quality of life in Washtenaw County for more than 50 years. And now it's simpler than ever for you to partner with us, through our new aaacf.org website. Read on below for more about our new site and how we can make a difference together.
October 3, 2016
“Impact investing actually represents a much wider spectrum of possibilities than traditional grantmaking,” says Neel Hajra, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. This three-minute video tells the story behind the renovations at a local fine arts organization and how it became a reality due to a low interest loan from AAACF.
May 12, 2017
With the creation of a new $500,000 loan fund, Washtenaw County nonprofits will soon have access to a new source of capital. During its 2017 Annual Community Meeting, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) announced an enhanced “impact investing” effort made possible by a social-impact strategist and donor.
Fran Loosen no longer lives locally, yet continues to direct even more family resources into a donor-advised fund (the Revolver Fund) she established at AAACF because of the foundation’s innovative new directions. A former knowledge officer with the Kellogg Foundation holding two Master’s degrees from the University of Michigan, Loosen wants neither her gift nor the impact investing program to focus on her, but rather on the outcomes it will make possible for the local community.
Neel Hajra, AAACF President & CEO, told the more than 400 event attendees that the Community Foundation wants to find additional ways to convert charitable capital and to leverage the power of AAACF’s $80M endowment into local impact. Hajra said, “We view nonprofit loan-making as an enhancement and supplement to our core grantmaking and scholarship work. Following further development this spring and summer—including hearing from nonprofits on where they see opportunities—we’ll be announcing our nonprofit loan program parameters this fall.”
AAACF successfully piloted a loan program with the Ann Arbor Art Center, a partnership that has been well documented and publicized and was also funded by the Revolver Fund. Impact investing has many possible directions, with direct loans to nonprofits at below-market rates (otherwise known as “program-related investments”) being the most conventional and lowest risk. Hajra cautions, “This nonprofit loan program in no way replaces banks and, in fact, AAACF sees this extension beyond its grantmaking as a way to potentially partner with other financial institutions in order to advance the nonprofit sector.” With grants, funds are distributed with no expectation to pay them back; by contrast, nonprofit loans require a low interest repayment of funds. Thanks to Ms. Loosen’s support through the Revolver Fund, AAACF will not be utilizing any of its permanent charitable funds to issue loans.
The unveiling of AAACF’s new nonprofit loan followed announcements of other impact for Washtenaw County, including the completion of a $250,000 matching program for the continued growth of its Community Scholarship Program, which provides multi-year scholarships and a dedicated success coach to local students from low-income families, students of color, and first-generation college students.
The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) is dedicated to enriching the quality of life in our region through its engaged grantmaking, knowledgeable leadership, and creative partnerships with donors. Founded in 1963, AAACF has awarded more than $45 million in grants and scholarships that have changed thousands of lives. AAACF currently manages more than $100 million in total assets and 550 charitable funds on our community’s behalf.