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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!



Blog for Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

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?

By James Pye / December 22, 2020
“I have a passion for being the voice of an organization and bettering the community around me.” Those words were part of my application letter to interview for the new Philanthropy Associate position at AAACF. I remember walking into the interview and shaking hands with three staff members in early March—not knowing that this might be the last time we would shake hands in a work environment! My name is James Pye, and I started at AAACF on May 4th, completely virtual.

By Jillian Rosen / October 29, 2020
When I was teenager, about to graduate from high school, I desperately wanted to spend a year traveling the world before enrolling in college. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and experience people and places. I had big visions of adventure — who doesn’t when you’re 17 and have no idea how adult life works. I also had two loving, overprotective parents who did not share my grand vision and who saw a straight path from high school to college. I wrote them essays on why this was a good idea, showed them pictures of the places I wanted to go, and still they did not support my plan. As I am no longer a wanderlust teenager and as a parent myself, I get it — the opportunity just wasn’t there. It was an important lesson — that opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.

By Amina Iqbal / October 14, 2020
For my second interview with AAACF, I was given a scenario: If the foundation was provided with a $1Million gift from a supporter of racial and social justice, what were some of the initiatives I would propose to uplift young Black males in Washtenaw County (WC)? On my first day at AAACF, I asked my supervisor, Jillian Rosen, if the scenario sent to me was hypothetical or real. She said it was not only real, but in fact I’d be managing this very fund. I was excited and motivated! In my previous professional role as the ED of a Detroit based nonprofit, I saw firsthand the many layers of inequities and disparities that exist in the city, including the trauma and challenges families face on a daily basis due to systemic and structural racism.

By Neel Hajra / June 4, 2020
Amid an avalanche of bad news, from pandemic to racial injustice, nothing illustrates better the tension in my head right now than deciding whether to start my remarks with “As a person of color” or “As a person of privilege.” Two choices, equally valid, but so deeply different in meaning and implication.

By Neel Hajra / February 4, 2020
If you are short on time, I’ll cut to the chase: please take and share AAACF’s survey on local capital investments in Washtenaw County: 1) for institutions (if you received Entrypoint’s email) and 2) for individuals. If you have a few moments… read on!

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