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Our History & Building

Some Things Never Change...

Current partnerships that were with us in 1963:

  • James and Clarice Foster
    The James and Clarice Foster Fund, the Foundation’s first named fund, still supports local youth programs.
  • The Cress Family
    Earl Cress was one of the Foundation’s founding leaders, and his son George Cress served as President and CEO from 1997-2001. Cress family funds continue their legacy.
  • United Way
    The Foundation continues to work with United Way of Washtenaw County through our Coordinated Funding Initiative­.

Since July 1963, AAACF's continued success is a tribute to the small group of visionary citizens who first established the Community Foundation, and to the thousands of community members - donors, volunteers, committee members and advisors - whose continued support and efforts help us meet the changing needs of our community.

History

Like many of the over 1600 community foundations around the world, AAACF was formed by a group of citizens invested in bettering the quality of life in their local community. In our case, that group of civic leaders was affiliated with the Washtenaw United Fund (now the United Way of Washtenaw County). The Board of the Washtenaw United fund recognized the benefit of establishing a broad purpose community foundation that could serve a wide range of changing local needs. Unlike private foundations, a community foundation could consolidate and invest the donations of a broad base of local donors, providing a flexible vehicle for community members to give back.

1963: Then and Now

In its first year, the Community Foundation’s assets totaled $59,018. Two grants totaling $6,291 were awarded.

Today, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation is one of the largest community foundations in Michigan.

As of 2016, the Community Foundation’s assets totaled $100+ million. Since 1963, AAACF has awarded more than $45 million in grants and scholarships.

Ann Arbor Firsts

  • AAACF sponsored Ann Arbor’s first drop-off recycling station at the Ecology Center in 1972.
  • With the help of AAACF, Dawn Farm opened Ann Arbor’s first transitional house for people recovering from addiction in 1998.
  • Over the years, AAACF has helped Food Gatherers expand their programs and facilities, including new efforts to measure food insecurity among low-income residents and the new Healthy School Pantry Program.
  • Funding from AAACF and generous community support led to the foundation of the Neutral Zone in 1998 to provide a safe and creative space for teens.

Our Building: 301 N. Main Street

1800s Office Building

Our offices are located at the intersection of North Main Street and Miller Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor. Originally designed to house Dr. Chase’s Steam Printing House, the building was added to the Ann Arbor Register of Historic Places in 1988. Dr. Chase’s apparent taste for the ornate explains the elaborate Italianate design of the original 1864 building. Unfortunately, most of the external details decayed over time, but renovations in 1993 attempted to restore the building’s 19th-century splendor.

Our Current Space

Ann Arbor Community Foundation building - 301 North Main Street

In its 50+ year existence, the Community Foundation has had eight different locations. Given our historic relationship with the Dobson family and our goal of being centrally located, we are committed to staying on the corner of Miller & Main in offices of the former Dobson-McOmber Agency!

Thanks to a 2006 Washtenaw County “Deal of the Year” and the subsequent generosity of many donors, we own our third-floor location and do not pay rent. As a nonprofit ourselves, we remain committed to increasing our impact rather than our expenses.

Recent renovations to our office space were sponsored by generous donations from supporters including the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. Our renovations were designed to facilitate conversations with residents, nonprofits, and partners around topics of common interest, ensuring our capacity to improve the quality of life in Washtenaw County for years to come.

Did You Know?

AAACF has occupied eight locations since its founding:

  • 1963-68: 211 E. Huron Street
  • 1968-70: P.O. Box
  • 1971-73: 2390 Huron Parkway
  • 1974-86: 2301 Platt Road
  • 1986-95: 121 W. Washington Street
  • 1995-2000: 201 S. Main Street, Floor 8
  • 2000-06: 201 S. Main Street, Floor 5
  • 2006-present: 301 N. Main Street, Floor 3

Our current building was originally built in 1864 at a third of its size. The size of the building tripled by 1868 due to the success of its original occupant—Dr. Chase’s Steam Printing House. Dr. Chase served the then budding community of Washtenaw County through his volunteer work and his weekly publication of the Peninsular Courier. Thus, our current space was built to house an important Ann Arbor institution—a legacy we are proud to continue.

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301 North Main St., Ste. 300   Ann Arbor, MI 48104   (734) 663-0401   Email us   Enews Signup

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