March 30, 2020

For more than a half century, thousands of community members have invested in Washtenaw County through endowment gifts large and small. Because of that loyalty to community, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) can give significantly in this time of crisis. In the past two weeks, AAACF has already deployed more than $475,000 across our community.

Examples include:

  • Renewed support for current operating support grantees. 15 nonprofits had previously demonstrated strength in leadership, program delivery, and finances through a rigorous application process, and our new grants will help sustain their impact on our community.
  • A grant to the Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund, aimed at small businesses with low-income owners located in neighborhoods at high risk for displacement with support for day-to-day operating expenses, including payroll.

Enacting our mission to support the quality of life in Washtenaw County now and forever, AAACF is mobilizing grants, cross-sector conversations, and loans on behalf of our community:


During this time of crisis, we are adapting our grantmaking to reflect new pressures faced by nonprofits and residents. For example, we converted all 2020 Youth Council Grants ($78,000 in total) from programmatic funding into general operating support. AAACF will continue to prioritize highly flexible grants that address the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on our most vulnerable communities, particularly those organizations led by members of those communities most affected. In the near term, the Foundation will proactively determine new grants rather than accepting applications.

While AAACF continues to adapt to changing circumstances, we remain committed to our core fundamentals. For example, community members comprise all our many grant committees, and we remain in consultation with them. We will continue operating our Community Scholarship Program, Cultural Economic Development and Dedicated Grant Programs, adapting each to address the new implications of the COVID-19 crisis.


We also continue our practice of convening people across sectors for input and to identify and address gaps in service. AAACF has conducted dozens of one-on-one conversations with nonprofit executive directors. The Foundation virtually convened over 30 nonprofits within the aging services sector to formulate a coordinated response, and we continue to facilitate important cross-sector conversations that encourage coordination and collaboration among local government, local nonprofits, and local businesses.

In addition to local conversations, AAACF is engaged with public policy conversations statewide and nationally through Neel’s leadership role on the Council of Michigan Foundations, including briefings by Governor Whitmer’s teams and federal experts. This engagement enables the Foundation to make decisions informed by local, statewide, and national contexts.


To help bridge the gap to federal relief and longer term economic recovery, AAACF is also making available a half-million dollars for short-term cash flow loans to local nonprofits. Details of this new program can be found here. Loan applications will be assessed on a rolling basis in terms of future ability to repay the loan and the degree to which an organization can contribute to long-term recovery in our community.

In addition to addressing the current crisis, we remain more committed than ever — as the dedicated endowment for Washtenaw County — to planning for and responding to the longer-term impacts of this pandemic. We will continue our approach of working with our community to listen and learn from local residents their solutions for addressing needs.

AAACF was built by the community, for the community, and we are working with the community to weather this crisis together. Thank you for your ongoing partnership!