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 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!

By Jillian Rosen / July 25, 2019
I offer to you just a few of the titles that have been eye-opening, challenging, or just plain fun! If you find yourself reading one or more of these and want a partner to dive into the material – please give me a call: 734-663-0401!

By Tony Gillum / July 12, 2019
This summer, I had the good fortune of working at the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) as a Rackham Public Engagement fellow. The Rackham Public Engagement Fellowship exists to connect graduate students at the University of Michigan to “opportunities for impact” outside of the classroom. This exciting initiative allows Rackham students to explore diverse career paths, improving their professional adaptability for a range of positions and roles.

By Katie Van Dusen / November 16, 2018
From November 2017 to January 2018, AAACF engaged in a pilot community voice initiative focused on arts & culture experiences in Washtenaw County. Called “In the Neighborhood,” the goal of the initiative was to capture the pulse and shared understandings of the art and cultural landscape of Washtenaw through a process combining art creation with community dialogue.

By Dr. Shelley Strickland / November 12, 2018
The “Season of Giving” is upon us and while some things have changed since late last year, there are still several ways to support your favorite nonprofits in a tax-advantageous* way.

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