AAACF’s Ongoing Commitment to Human Services & the Social Safety Net

Providing funds for basic needs has always been a central focus for AAACF. This commitment has grown substantially in magnitude in recent years. For example, our decades of commitment to vulnerable seniors increased dramatically in 2017 through the Glacier Hills Legacy Fund, which provides $650,000 in annual support for the aging population in Washtenaw County. Our Community Grantmaking Program provides meaningful, multi-year grants for general operating support which have tripled in size since the inception of this program five years ago. We continue to grow and add new dedicated nonprofits endowments that produce a steady annual income for local human service organizations. 

 

These are just some examples of AAACF’s ever-expanding and ever-evolving support for human services since the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders (COFU) partnership was launched Fall 2010. CEO Neel Hajra and VP for Community Investment Jillian Rosen are the two longest-running staffers in the partnership (Neel for 10 years and Jillian for 9). Their experience informed a thoughtful, multi-year process among AAACF Board and staff that led to the decision to not renew our participation in COFU after June 30, 2021. You can learn more about AAACF’s future departure from the partnership on this FAQs page. AAACF’s decades of commitment to funding local human services, as well as to local partnerships, is as strong as ever and will remain that way.

What was the process that led AAACF to make this decision?

  • Our deliberations have spanned years. The extensive independent evaluation of the partnership in 2017 identified many areas for reform and change, driven primarily by grantee feedback. COFU partners took this feedback to heart and have been discussing the results throughout the current three-year funding cycle that ends next July.
  • As a data-driven organization (one of our core values), AAACF took seriously the evaluation data suggesting the partnership was not clearly enhancing our collective impact for grantees or individuals served by those nonprofits.
  • In 2018 and 2019 the COFU partnership engaged two outside consultants to assist with planning and visioning, all of which also informed AAACF’s thinking as well.
  • Our community’s and nation’s challenges in 2020 further exposed the need for AAACF to hold ourselves accountable for changing how we do our work in furtherance of our core values of Prioritizing Community and Pursuing Equity. We concluded that new approaches to community change were best pursued through new partnerships rather than through COFU. We continue to value the excellent work performed by each of our COFU partners!
  • AAACF is in a strategic planning process that concludes in spring 2021  new priorities emerging from this process will inform new initiatives and partnerships going forward.

Why was this decision announced now?

  • We believe that the least disruptive departure date for AAACF is at the conclusion of the current COFU three-year funding cycle (July 2021) accompanied by ample advance notice to grantees.
  • To that end, we first informed COFU partners in August 2020 of our intention not to renew our participation in July 2021. We then engaged in months of planning with our partners regarding the implications and logistics of our departure. We provided formal written notice of our departure to the partners on October 30, 2020 to comply with the COFU memorandum of understanding requirement of a minimum six-month written notification of departure.
  • We distributed grantee notifications on November 10 following some final coordination with partners.

How were grantees notified?

  • Neel Hajra sent this letter to all grantees on November 10, 2020.
  • Neel and Jillian Rosen also reached out to each grantee that currently receives AAACF funding through the model.

What organizations currently receive AAACF multi-year funding through COFU?

  • Seven nonprofits are in the third year of multi-year grants for older adult services set to expire on July 1, 2021. These grantees will receive additional one-time, flexible transitional grants from AAACF in July. Those grantees also continue to be eligible to participate in AAACF’s existing competitive grant programs for older adult services, through which AAACF will continue to distribute grants previously distributed via COFU.
  • Three grantees have received multi-year COFU capacity-building grant awards primarily funded by AAACF and which conclude in 2022. AAACF will honor those commitments beyond June 30, 2021, even after we exit the partnership.

Is this a funding cut for the community?

  • This is not a funding cut; it is a change in how some grants get distributed by AAACF. We are not reducing our funding for human services.
  • As the chart above illustrates, AAACF’s commitment to funding human services and the social safety net goes well beyond our grantmaking through Coordinated Funding and has been on an upward trajectory for years.

Does this mean AAACF will no longer partner with the United Way, St. Joe’s, or local government?

  • One of our core values is Enhancing Collaboration and we believe there is a lot of potential for new local partnerships with our valued COFU allies as well as other institutions.
  • We have engaged in recent and ongoing other funding partnerships with our COFU allies, including:

-  Partnering with United Way on COVID relief
-  Partnering with Washtenaw County on small business relief, Barrier Busters, and Continuum of Care funding
-  Partnering with the City of Ann Arbor on the “Aging in Place Efficiently” initiative.
-  Hosting a major permanent fund established by St. Joseph Mercy Health System (the Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund for Permanent Supportive Housing Services)

If you have further questions after reading this document and would like to be part of a follow-up conversation, please fill out this form.

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