Forever Washtenaw Blog

The latest news and commentary about what’s happening at AAACF and around Washtenaw County. This year, we are actively updating our website blog with stories from staff members every two weeks. Topics will be wide-ranging and will reflect the diverse perspectives and roles of staff members!

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Blog for Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation


By Neel Hajra / June 29, 2021
As a life-long resident of Washtenaw County, I love that the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) engages in a wide and diverse range of philanthropic activities to address an evolving community. If forced to identify just one example of how AAACF has evolved in recent years, it would be our Community Scholarship Program (CSP). That’s because CSP is more than a scholarship program—it embeds multiple new philosophies and AAACF’s new Core Values (Prioritizing Community, Pursuing Equity, Earning Trust, Leveraging Knowledge & Enhancing Collaboration). Although CSP has been on my mind during this season of celebrating high school and college graduations (and do watch the video about our 12 CSP college grads!), I want to reflect on CSP now as an illustration of how we are approaching our work in general moving forward.

By Betsy Petoskey / June 1, 2021
As summer starts, we have many new beginnings to celebrate, including the freedom to be out exploring our neighborhoods in ways we were unable to do last year. We are rediscovering treasured gems in our community and resuming traditions of celebrating life’s transitions, such as weddings and graduations. As a Foundation, we are reshaping a strategic plan for the new landscape. As we do that, we also celebrate traditions, such as transitions in the Board of Trustees.

By Karen Andrews / May 20, 2021
On April 30, 2021, we held our first-ever Investors Salon. Community members, investors, financial professionals and business leaders attended to share thoughts and grow our collective wisdom on Impact Investing.

By Doug Weber / April 28, 2021
Springtime always feels like a time of change and hopeful new beginnings. Now that our late April snow has melted and spring flowers are emerging, I find myself warmed with a sense of renewal and great hope. In my personal life, that means that my cautious optimism has me looking forward to greater freedom to move about in public and to see and talk to many of you in our community face-to-face in the months ahead.

By Jillian Rosen / April 15, 2021
As a child I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in rural upstate New York. My grandfather was particularly fond of hiking in the woods (sans any marked trails) and took me along with him. Most of the time we would set off from their house and spend hours making our way through the forest; always our first task was to find for ourselves a walking stick. This ritual of searching out our walking stick was something I looked forward to as much as the hike itself. It provided us with stability, a sense of purpose, and something to literally hold onto as we ventured onto unknown paths.

By Chris Lemon / March 29, 2021
Maybe it’s my severe case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but I have always equated stagnation with death of creativity. It was only after an AAACF book club on Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy that an understanding began to emerge regarding the impact of perfectionism and creativity.

By Dorcas Patterson / March 11, 2021
That's the job! There was no question in my mind. I had to apply for the position of Office Operations Manager/Assistant to the CEO. I instinctively knew AAACF was the right employer for me. I wanted to grow and use my experience to support people who share similar values. So naturally, I was thrilled when Neel Hajra, CEO, offered me the position and I started January 4, 2021.

By Neel Hajra / February 17, 2021
I’m surely not alone in wanting to leave 2020 in the rearview mirror. Some reflection on what transpired will help us keep at the forefront the many lessons learned and how to move forward for continued impact on our community. As we have closed the books on 2020 and are undergoing our annual independent audit, I want to reflect on the foundation’s past year. The extraordinarily challenging year was also the convergence of many institutional milestones for AAACF and for me — the completion of a five-year strategic plan developed when I first became CEO, the tenth year of my tenure at AAACF, and the launch by our board and staff of new core values that guided us in 2020 and will propel us forward for years to come.

By AAACF / February 3, 2021
This fall, the Youth Council completed a Needs Assessment to identify the issues facing high school aged youth in Washtenaw County. The purpose of the survey was to gain data so that we are able to make informed decisions about how to distribute the funds we oversee. The 25 members of the Youth Council worked together with Carrie Hammerman, a consultant from NEW, to construct every aspect of the survey. We included questions about the concerns that impact youth the most, and what services and programs they would like to see more of. Additionally, we asked questions to identify the greatest barriers that prevent youth from participating in programs.

By Maryellen Ferro / January 13, 2021
Did you know that colleges can displace grants offered to students if they receive a private scholarship? Would you be surprised to learn that you can be considered a full-time student and still not have enough credits to graduate in 4 years? If you were asked what the acronyms TIP, FAFSA, COA, EFC, MTG, SAP or MTG stand for, would you be able to respond?

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