Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation
…joining charitable intentions with community needs
Over the last 20 years, the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has invited nonprofit organizations to submit applications for the Annual Grant Cycle from July 15 – September 15. Fortunately, during this time, the Community Foundation’s ability to provide grants has grown. Along with the addition and growth of funds, caring and generous donors have provided grants from their funds to meet expanding community needs.
The Community Foundation’s tagline, or motto is “joining charitable intensions with community needs”, and that is exactly what they have done during their Annual Grant Cycle. In the past, when a charitable group or nonprofit organization submitted an application, the Community Foundation considered which fund criteria or donor intent was a good match to provide a grant. “One year, Second Harvest told us about how they wanted to provide more fresh food to people at the Grand Rapids Food Shelf,” says said Sarah Copeland, the Foundation’s Director of Grants and Programs. “We have numerous donors who understand the harsh realities of food insecurity in our local area, so we joined that donor’s charitable intent with the need, and found a donor who provided a grant for the Food Shelf to purchase a refrigerator. It never ceases to amaze me how fantastic our donors are – they are so interested in the health and well-being of our community. The good we are able to achieve throughout the Greater Itasca Area is due to local people who donate through the Community Foundation.”
Everyone can donate
This year, the Community Foundation is making it possible for everyone to be a donor. To make it more convenient, the Foundation’s entire Annual Grant Cycle is now moving online. From July 15 - September 15, charitable groups and nonprofit organizations in the Greater Itasca Area can submit their needs (grant applications). At the end of September, after review and approval by Foundation staff, the requests will all go live online and anyone can donate to the projects and programs for which they want to support.
According to Chris Fulton, Executive Director the Community Foundation, a bunch of little grants can have a big impact. “I remember when the Grand Rapids Farmers’ Market had first implemented their ‘Mighty Matching Dollars’ program. Here you have local farmers who understand the importance of fresh food in a person’s diet. The Farmers’ Market found a way to double the value of a dollar that people spend using their EBT cards, so that purchasing fresh food was accessible and affordable to everyone. Because we have so many great donors who support this work at the Farmers’ Market, we actually had about eight small grants that together provided the amount the Farmers’ Market needed for the program,” states Fulton.
Once the Annual Grant Cycle goes live at the end of September, anyone can come here to the Community Foundation’s website (www.gracf.org) and see all the requests for needs in the Greater Itasca Area. You just scroll though the programs, read about those that interest you, and decide if you want to provide support. If you find a program you want to support, it’s simply a click or two, and you can donate right there on the secure site.
“This is also a great way to start your children or grandchildren thinking and acting on giving back to their community. When we say anyone, we mean anyone. If you have a fund, you can give from your fund. If you have never given through the Community Foundation – now is your chance. We want everyone to participate. As long as you are willing to give at least $5, you can donate. If you don’t want to donate, that’s fine too, but do go to the site and check out the programs and needs in our area,” says Fulton.
Everyone at the Community Foundation is excited about the new Annual Grant Cycle. “We understand this is the first year, and there can be confusion when things change, but we are all happy to take phone calls and answer questions. This new Annual Grant Cycle will work in a similar way to crowd-sourcing.
We hope that lots of organizations apply before the September 15 deadline,” concludes Copeland. “Go to the ‘Grants and Getting Help’ tab and you’ll see the Annual Grant Cycle page. If you have any questions, just call us, and together, we will figure it out.”