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Bold Ideas for Community Investment

Bold Ideas for Community Investment

March 2, 2017

In the fall of 2016, AAACF piloted a new type of community investment, called Bold Ideas, to invest in innovative ideas and projects that generate a significant leap in how our community addresses a long-term or emerging need. Three organizations were asked to pitch their Bold Ideas:

  • Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse
  • Washtenaw ID Project
  • SnowBuddy

Including $30,000 of support from AAACF's Community Impact funds, this pilot resulted in more than $100,000 total invested in the three Bold Ideas, through the support of local donors & funders and AAACF Donor Advised Funds. Read more below about their Bold Ideas, and stay tuned for updates on their work!

Bold Ideas

Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse

Cultivate Coffee & Tap House has a straightforward mission: to create a social enterprise that exists to do good. For Cultivate, this means, one that creates a rich community environment within the setting of a neighborhood coffee and tap house and uses the resulting profits as funding to support local and global hunger relief programs in addition to innovating new solutions.

What's the Big Idea?

Cultivate has chosen to help end hunger in our county by 2030. They have created a social enterprise model and physical space that is solely focused on doing good in the community.

In doing so, their work includes creating a hunger map, hosting community discussions on race, hunger and other poverty-related topics, sourcing local food, building partnerships with Ypsilanti schools, and maintaining open book management.

Washtenaw ID Project

The Washtenaw ID Project is a public/private partnership of community representatives, advocates, county government staff and elected officials that addresses the denial of the human right to recognition and the exclusion from necessary goods and services of an estimated 42,000 residents who lack a government issued ID. The ID Project made a government-issued ID more accessible by petitioning the County Board of Commissioners to verify the identification of County residents and issue ID Cards through the Office of the County Clerk. Since June 2015 over 1,200 residents have obtained a County ID and over 90% of all applicants received assistance from the ID Support Clinic.

What’s the Big Idea?

Without a valid government-issued photo-ID, approximately 42,000 members of our community, disproportionately from traditionally stigmatized populations, are denied access to necessary goods and services and excluded from participation in civic life, forcing them to live in the shadows and on the margins of the Washtenaw County community.

Washtenaw ID Project intends to expand their work, including conducting an outreach campaign for businesses encouraging acceptance of the Washtenaw ID, measuring the effectiveness of the ID Program, consulting with local government, creating a toolkit to formalize the model, and coordinating the volunteer-run ID support clinic.


Founded in 2014, SnowBuddy is a free snow removal service maintaining twelve miles of Ann Arbor sidewalk in a pilot neighborhood with the goal of a city-wide sidewalk snow removal program.

What’s the Big Idea?

Northern cities struggle to maintain safe and accessible sidewalks through the snowy months of winter. They struggle and they fail, and sidewalk transportation becomes a barrier to, rather than a provider of, mobility, pushing dependency on the automobile for transportation even when work, shopping and entertainment are a reasonable walking distance away. A more pedestrian friendly city needs less parking, has less street congestion and has a more active and healthy population.

Refining their operations will allow the organization to promote a community-wide solution to maintaining sidewalks as safe and effective means of environmentally responsible transportation for everyone, everywhere in Ann Arbor, during every season. To that end, SnowBuddy will design and execute a campaign to raise awareness of possible community wide solutions and build consensus towards implementing them.

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