May 11, 2022
by Amina Iqbal, Senior Community Investment Officer
Many of us are trying to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. But for some this is nothing short of a monumental task, as COVID not only upended “normal” but also amplified challenges. There are many who lost jobs during the pandemic and are struggling to find a new one. Some who did not have easy access to virtual schooling are at serious risk of being left behind. Access to food is still a problem in food deserts, especially for those without a car or access to public transport. Rent prices have gone through the roof and many are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments.
Such hardships are not uncommon for many individuals and families in Washtenaw County, particularly in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. In my first blog when I joined AAACF in 2020, I shared about the disparities that exist between Ypsilanti/Ypsilanti Township and Ann Arbor, and included a graphic from Washtenaw County’s Opportunity Index. The pandemic in many ways only exacerbated the pre-existing socioeconomic inequalities.
For the last two years, majority of the Community Foundation’s grant programs, including the Ypsilanti Area Community Fund (YACF), have focused on COVID response, relief, and recovery. That encompassed a wide variety of areas, including education, housing, mental health, healthcare, and food security. A full list of AAACF’s and YACF’s 2021 grants can be found here.
As one of our many approaches to County-wide engagement and funding, the Ypsilanti Area Community Fund is led by dedicated community members who are on the ground in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. They each bring their personal and community perspectives to the table. Their passion and drive for our community is visible at every meeting!
YACF’s vision for impact is: Every family in the Ypsilanti area will thrive by gaining access to programs and services through collaborative partnerships across sectors that measurably increase health outcomes and educational attainment leading to economic well-being.
Some of the impactful grants made by YACF recently include:
- Youth Arts Alliance – $10,000 to serve youth under probation supervision through healing-centered arts workshops and community-based education & experiences.
- Corner Health Center – $10,000 to support a Nurse Practitioner (NP) providing services to children and adults staying in youth & family shelters in Washtenaw County.
- A Brighter Way – $10,000 to support the expansion of their mentorship program for those returning home from incarceration.
Looking at another angle on the Community Foundation’s support of the Ypsilanti area, a number of grants were made from AAACF’s Community Grantmaking program, at the direction of the
Community Investment Committee. Grants in Ypsilanti included:
- Food Gatherers – providing grants to 15 BIPOC-led community partners located in the 48197/98 zip codes.
- Community Family Life Center – to support and Afterschool Enrichment program with comprehensive approach to health and wellness to youth in Ypsilanti.
- Ypsilanti District Library – to support 200 households to receive activity kits, 50 adults to receive hands on assistance, and 250 children to hear stories, choose free books, get library cards, and interact with Trusted Parent Advisors and Library staff.