Trust-based philanthropy is an action many community foundations are now undertaking to strengthen relationships with grantees. As a Community Foundation team, we strive to be accessible and to understand the challenges faced by nonprofits in the important work they undertake every day to address community problems and protect community assets.

We’ve learned a lot about how to make ourselves more approachable and to streamline, where we can, the grant application and reporting processes. Instead of a complicated logic model for outputs and outcomes, we hope a grantee can share a story. We want them to tell us about how the grant changed lives and what we were able to accomplish together.

Site visits and field trips are also an important part of building trust and partnership. We are frequently visiting grantees now to better understand the projects we fund. A recent example was our visit to the Newaygo County Career Tech Center for a tour and lunch.

Trust works both ways, of course, and we hope to build a stronger-than-ever relationship with our grantee partners so that we have the most impact on quality of life in Newaygo County. We are striving to be more transparent, to provide more technical assistance, and to maintain the absolute highest standards of integrity and financial stewardship possible. Our team is always cognizant that we are the trusted stewards of many donations, creating a forever legacy. Look for more stories on our social media and in our publications about your Community Foundation, and thank you for being a part of philanthropy.

Fremont Area Community Foundation’s Housing Partnership Fund awarded its second round of grants to seven local housing creation projects. In total, $690,000 was awarded.

Projects receiving funding are expected to add more than 100 housing units in Fremont, Grant, Newaygo, and White Cloud. The projects include a mix of owner-occupied and rental units. The $690,000 awarded will enable recipients to leverage $6 million in total project investments.

In the Fremont area, Haven Design Build was awarded a $60,000 grant toward the construction of a duplex. Two larger multi-unit projects also received funding. Stone Hill Estates received a $150,000 grant and the City of Fremont received a $150,000 grant.

In Grant, Frey Management received $150,000 for a five-unit project in Ashland Township. TMW Properties was awarded a $60,000 grant for a duplex on Lee Street, and BMB Builders received $30,000 for a single-family home.

Moxy Homes was also awarded $90,000 to support a project that will add three single-family homes in White Cloud and Newaygo.

The grants are made possible through a partnership between the Community Foundation and Newaygo County. In 2023, county commissioners approved $1 million to help create the Newaygo County Housing Partnership Fund at the Community Foundation. The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees also earmarked an additional $1 million. A committee including county officials, Community Foundation staff, and community representatives like Julie Burrell of The Right Place was formed to create grantmaking guidelines and review proposals.

The first round of housing grants was awarded in early fall 2023. A total of $300,000 was awarded to three projects in the White Cloud and Hesperia areas. The projects were anticipated to add eight housing units in White Cloud and five in Hesperia.

“Over two grant rounds, we have helped builders and developers leverage nearly $9 million in new housing development projects,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “This represents more than 120 additional housing units, which are desperately needed in Newaygo County. We are grateful to work with the county and other local partners to address this need and provide support.”

“The board is very excited to see the added interest in the second round of proposals,” said Bryan Kolk, chair of the Newaygo County Board of Commissioners. “This is working out exactly as desired with the jump start of new housing projects. We can’t wait to see what the third round brings.”

A third round of housing grants will be open for applications on March 1, with proposals due on July 15. Nonprofit and for-profit developers are eligible to apply. Applicants are encouraged to leverage additional funding sources and seek the support of local municipalities. Housing developments must be located in Newaygo County to be eligible.

For more information on the application process, contact Lindsay Hager at the Community Foundation at 231.924.5350.

Fremont Area Community Foundation manages 25 separate grant rounds annually, including rounds for our three geographic affiliates. The grant review process is similar for all 25 rounds with some variations due to geographic area, strategic focus area, or fund restrictions. Each grant area has written guidelines that detail the goals, requirements, and focus area details. These guidelines are available on our website and are provided to prospective grant applicants at grantee workshops or individual meetings.

Once grant applications are received from the online grant portal, staff and committee members begin to review them for completeness, adherence to grantmaking guidelines, organizational capacity, and other due diligence. An online scoring process is used by each reviewer, allowing them to numerically rate several sections of the grant application. Scores are then aggregated and a final score is generated for each application. Reviewers can also ask follow-up questions which are sent back to applicants so additional clarification can be provided.

The final score, responses to questions, and a summary is prepared for each grant application. A committee meeting is then scheduled to review each grant summary, and a recommendation is made. Typically, each grant application will either be denied, partially funded, or fully funded. Variations to these alternatives could include a portion being funded as a matching grant (e.g., $0.50 awarded to the grantee for each $1 raised and documented by the applicant), contingency approvals (e.g., Community Foundation funding is only approved if the applicant receives funding from other sources), or phased awards (e.g., half of funds awarded up front, the second half awarded upon successful completion of first half activities).

Once committee recommendations are made, the Board of Trustees reviews recommendations and makes final decisions. Factors considered include the available grant funding in each round, the number of applications received, the scoring summary of each application, applicant capacity, and other information that might be relevant to individual grant applications.

Staff will then communicate the final decision directly to applicants. Staff will follow up with recipients throughout the year by visiting them, preferably when the grant-funded activity can be observed. For applicants who were not funded, staff will meet with them to provide feedback on why the denial was made and suggestions for improving future applications.

Successful grantees receive grant funding, implement the activity, project, or program funded with the grant, then provide follow-up reports back to the Community Foundation. Grantee success stories are written and shared in various Community Foundation publications.

The Community Foundation recently welcomed Denise Suttles and Christopher Wren to its Board of Trustees.

Suttles has long been active in northern Newaygo County and Lake County. She most recently served as executive director of Lake County Habitat for Humanity and has experience working with local youth programs and church ministries. She previously worked for the Newaygo County Commission on Aging and served on our board for five years beginning in 2014.

“I have lived here for 25 years and love the environment and living in a small community,” said Suttles. “During my time here, I’ve been able to give back through service, which is really important to me. I wanted to serve on the board to broaden my perspective and learn from such a wonderful group of people. Serving on the board gives me the opportunity to learn and serve in all areas.”

Wren is the county administrator for Newaygo County, a position he has held since 2016. His career has been focused on public service, previously working as a city manager in Genesee County. He has also been active in local service organizations and youth programs and has served as chair of Newaygo County United Way.

“My wife and I found our place in Newaygo County,” said Wren. “It is a great place to raise a family. Serving on the board gives me the opportunity to be transformational in the success of Newaygo County. Our communities here are moving in the right direction and I want to be part of that.”

Suttles and Wren were elected to the board to fill positions left by Randy McDonald and Roland Reed, who each concluded their board service in 2023.

Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded $4 million in its final community grant round of 2023. In both 2023 community grant rounds, the Community Foundation awarded more than $6 million total.

Grant support was awarded to a variety of organizations and programs serving Newaygo County residents, including programs centered on economic development, arts and culture, literacy, hunger prevention, and more. Most grants targeted one of the Community Foundation’s three focus areas: community development, education, and poverty reduction.

In the area of community development, grants were awarded to the City of White Cloud for a façade improvement program and to the Arts Center for Newaygo County to bring the Grand Rapids Ballet to our county in 2024. Other grants included general operating support for organizations like the Heritage Museum of Newaygo County, Newaygo County Council for the Arts, and Newaygo County Tourism Council.

The Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency was awarded a $145,000 grant to increase access to and support services for post-secondary achievement. The Newaygo Conservation District also received a $75,200 grant for its Nature is Our Educator program. The award included $1,000 from a donor advised fund. The program is a partnership that includes Kropscott Farm Environmental Center and Observatory and five local public school districts. It will provide a coordinated approach to enhance STEAM curriculum and increase proficiency in math and science.

Grants in the area of poverty reduction included support for housing services, hunger prevention, transportation, and more. Community Closet Charities was awarded a $14,000 grant that includes a matching grant of up to $4,000. The volunteer-run organization serves thousands of people each year by allowing customers to shop at no cost for clothing and household items.

The Community Foundation accepts community grant applications online twice each year. The next deadline is March 1. For more information, visit

The Community Foundation has more than 100 scholarships available for high school seniors, current college students, and medical students. Last year, the Community Foundation awarded new and renewable scholarships to 321 Newaygo County students, totaling more than $692,000. And now that the holidays are over, a new scholarship deadline season is just around the corner!

We put together a few tips for students who are working on completing their applications before the March 1 deadline. As always, please feel free to contact us any time with questions about the scholarship process.

  • Don’t wait until February 29 to get started! We know you get a whole extra Leap Day this year, but you’ll want to start on the application well before then. Give yourself plenty of time to gather the information you’ll need, ask questions, and complete a quality application.
  • Read all questions carefully. For questions with answer options to select, read through all the options carefully and then choose the one that best describes your situation or plans.
  • Scholarships can be used for trade schools and apprenticeship programs. In fact, we have several scholarships just for students pursuing those paths.
  • Check your essay for appropriate spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Think of it more like an essay you’re writing for English class and not a text message to a friend (e.g., Don’t use acronyms like “IDK” in your essay). And it never hurts to ask someone to proofread it for you!
  • The application will ask for your email address—be sure to use a personal email, not your school email. We may need to contact you after you graduate and no longer have access to the school email account.

Scholarship applications for high school seniors, current college students, and medical school students are completed online and due March 1. The application for Newaygo County adult students is open year-round; for more information on adult student scholarships, click HERE.

The Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund at Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded grants to projects dedicated to improving the health of the Muskegon River and its watershed. This year marks the twenty-first consecutive year the fund has supported watershed improvement organizations.

Five projects received funding in the 2023 grant cycle, with a total of $59,800 awarded. The fund was established at Fremont Area Community Foundation in 2002 through the generosity of BlueTriton Brands, formerly Great Spring Waters of America, Inc. and is an endowed fund of the Community Foundation, which means it is a permanent, ever-growing resource. More than $800,000 has been awarded to 25 organizations since the inception of the fund.

“We are grateful for the generosity of BlueTriton Brands and are proud to partner in support of so many outstanding organizations and projects working to conserve and protect the Muskegon River watershed,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of Fremont Area Community Foundation. “We are excited to see the great things that will be accomplished by this year’s grant recipients.”

Organizations receiving funding in 2023 include the County of Newaygo, Grant Public Schools, Mecosta Conservation District, and Muskegon Conservation District.

A grant to the County of Newaygo will support trail and bridge construction costs on Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam. Remaining grant funds will be used for trail feature work and maintenance. The Dragon will be a 47-mile adventure trail for world-class biking, hiking, running, and outdoor recreation. Twenty-nine miles have been completed so far.

Said Nick Smith, Newaygo County parks and recreation director, “Newaygo County is excited to continue our Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund partnership. The county has leveraged these funds over the past years to continue developing and improving the Dragon Trail. This project has drawn over 68,000 trail users to the region in the past 15 months, which generated over $2 million in economic impact for our local businesses and residents.

The trail is sustainably designed for visitors to experience the beautiful bluffs, wetlands, ravines, wildlife, trees, and parks around Hardy Pond. By providing a destination trail system highlighting our impressive natural resources, we hope to give visitors and residents a deeper connection and appreciation for the natural environment around them.”

Grant Public Schools received a grant for students to plant a rain garden at Ed Henning County Park, which is located just outside of the city of Newaygo and is a popular recreation spot. Through the project, students will increase habitat for pollinators, decrease the amount of stormwater runoff entering the river, and be exposed to environmental careers. Students will also research ways to create eco-protective buffer zones along waterways. This is the second year Grant Public Schools was selected for project funding to help with an ongoing restoration and enhancement project.

Said Brett Zuver, superintendent of Grant Public Schools, “Environmental projects, like the Henning Park Rain Garden, present unique opportunities for young students to learn ways to protect waterways, prevent erosion and pollution from impacting them, and take an active role in the work. The IMESF support is greatly appreciated and necessary for Grant Public Schools to enable students to have this valuable experience.”

A grant beneficiary since 2020, Mecosta Conservation District received funding this year to continue its program of hazardous waste collection free of charge for residents of Lake, Osceola, and Mecosta counties; it is the sole hazardous waste disposal option for the area. Residents can safely dispose of pesticides, fertilizers, and other materials that can be toxic to waterways. More than 39,000 pounds of hazardous waste from Mecosta, Osceola, and Lake county residents were collected this year.

Said Brook Baumann, district administrator for Mecosta Conservation District, “Offering a household hazardous waste collection to our residents at no charge has been an important staple in our program to encourage proper disposal that protects the health of our community members and environment. Properly disposing of household hazardous waste requires licensed contractors and significant financial resources as disposal prices continue to escalate. The Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund support contributes significantly to offsetting these costs and is a key factor in why this program has been successful for many years.”

Muskegon Conservation District was awarded grants for two projects. One will fund tree planting for bank stabilization along a stretch of the Muskegon River in the Muskegon Creek Game Area adjacent to Mosquito Creek. The project is being undertaken in concert with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The second grant will fund an ecology study of wood turtles, with a goal of identifying nesting areas and habitat. Wood turtles are considered a threatened species in Michigan and their presence is a key bioindicator of a healthy watershed. The project is being conducted in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Sources Wildlife Division, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, John Ball Zoo, and Grand Valley State University.

Said Arlene Anderson-Vincent, Ice Mountain 100% Natural Spring Water, and member of the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund Advisory Committee, “This year’s Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund investments represent the diversity of the Muskegon River and the organizations throughout the watershed that work tirelessly to protect, enhance, and improve it. From conservation and preservation to education, this year’s projects will make a difference not only to the watershed’s vitality but also to build a foundation of environmental stewardship in our younger generations.”

Grant applications for the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund are accepted online each year from June 1 until July 15. Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the health of the watershed are also invited to contribute to the fund at any time. More information on the fund, how to donate, and how to apply for a grant can be found at

For decades, generous people and dedicated organizations have partnered with us to leave a legacy and impact the present and future of the community they love. This is certainly true in Newaygo County, but also in the three counties served by our affiliate foundations. Some of these partners sat down with us recently to share their stories and insights on the work of the Community Foundation. Hear from them—and learn a little more about our work across four counties—in our brand new video.

You can also check out shorter highlights for each of the four community foundations by clicking the links below.

Fremont Area Community Foundation

Lake County Community Foundation

Mecosta County Community Foundation

Osceola County Community Foundation

Thank you to everyone who participated and to Nathan Roels at Second Mile Video for his great work!

This year has been full of accomplishments, events, learning, and impact. And it’s all possible thanks to the thoughtfulness, generosity, and passion of people like you! Here are a few of the things we accomplished together in 2023:

We have awarded $5.3 million in grants so far this year, with more to be awarded by the end of this month.




We welcomed 14 new members to Our Next 75 this year. Our Next 75 includes those who commit to supporting their community now and into the future. With our 75th anniversary coming in 2026, we are already at nearly 85% of our goal!



In August, we held our first Emeritus and Board Dinner for current and past trustees. It was a time for updates and great discussions.




We partnered with Newaygo County to launch the Housing Partnership Fund. County commissioners approved $1 million and our trustees earmarked an additional $500,000 to support local housing creation. The first grants were made from the fund this fall, with a second round open now.



We were excited to host several learning opportunities, including a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop in May and a grantee workshop in September. We also welcomed author, speaker, and educator Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz to Lake County in August. Ilyasah—the daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz—spoke about her memoir Growing Up X and how educational attainment is a key to alleviating poverty.


Students in Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties were engaged in grantmaking and leadership development as part of our Youth Advisory Committees.




We worked with the Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership in their efforts to attract state grants, leverage resources, and make plans to enhance our community.



We hosted Congressman John Moolenaar, Representative Joseph Fox, and Senator Rick Outman to talk about Newaygo County, surrounding communities, and priorities for citizen well-being. I also participated in Foundations on the Hill to advocate for philanthropic issues on Capitol Hill.


We launched our updated strategic framework. Guided by our refreshed goals and guiding principles, we began to engage in more trust-based philanthropy, streamlined our governance structure, and look for opportunities for positive disruption.



We loved spending time meeting with donors, community leaders, and neighbors to listen to their stories and dreams for the Community Foundation.




Your partnership made all of these things—and much more—possible in 2023. We look forward to continuing to serve our community with you in 2024. Thank you, and happy holidays!

We are devastated over the passing of our trustee and friend Mary Rangel Hipolito. Mary had served on our Board of Trustees since 2015 and was chair of our Poverty to Prosperity Committee. She was thoughtful, kind, and generous, with a true heart for people.

We are inspired by Mary’s extensive work throughout the community, in particular her tireless support for migrant families. Mary’s own family had lived and worked as migrants between Michigan and Florida for several years of her childhood until they decided to stay in Grant. For well over a decade, Mary had championed and led Farmworker Appreciation Day, an event that celebrates the contributions of migrant farmworkers. “I wish more people realized how important these workers are to farmers and to you and I,” she told us last year. “We need them, and it’s important they know how much we appreciate them.” Mary had also recently joined the Our Next 75 donor group and shared that she hoped to create a fund one day to support migrant families.

While Mary did not seek recognition for her work, it was honored recently at the annual Newaygo County Influential Women in Leadership luncheon where she received the Emerging Leader Award. The award recognized her support and advocacy for farmworker families, her board service, and her work for District Health Department #10 as a WIC program clerk technician.

“A person like Mary is an example to us all, and she will be deeply missed by her Community Foundation family,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “What we learned from her, and will continue to carry forth, is the true spirit of philanthropy:  kindness, compassion, and delivering resources to make a community a better place.”

Mary’s leadership, passion, and kindness was truly inspiring and will be sorely missed by all of us. We extend our deepest sympathies to Mary’s family and loved ones.

Read more about Mary and Farmworker Appreciation Day here and in a 2015 story here.

Fremont Area Community Foundation, like other nonprofit organizations, welcomes year-end giving. It is estimated that 30 percent of charitable giving is done between November 1 and December 31. Gifts to the Community Foundation benefit so many; your donation becomes part of a larger invested pool of funds that grows significantly over time.

Each year, the Community Foundation gives more than $7 million in grants and scholarships. Agencies depend on our support to carry out their work in poverty reduction, to help libraries purchase books, to fund new homes through our housing partnership, to support the sustainability of local arts and culture institutions, and to ensure our young people are able to attend training or higher education.

Most importantly, the Community Foundation belongs to the community. Your gift means that we can meet the charitable intent of donors and adapt to the needs of the community as they change.

What makes giving to the Community Foundation so popular is the flexibility and the ability to give to the causes you care most about. Our Community Foundation remains the second largest per capita in the country, and that is thanks to you. My husband and I are proud to be monthly donors to the Community Foundation, and I hope you’ll consider the Community Foundation one of your best options for giving too. Contact us today to find out how to give, whether through cash, securities, IRA, life insurance, donor advised funds, or even real estate.

Blessings to you and your family as we enter this holiday season and thank you!

More than 70 people gathered for the Community Foundation’s annual Fall Donors Luncheon on October 18. The luncheon was held at the Black Box at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts.

Shelly Kasprzycki, our president and CEO, provided an update on some of the organization’s recent work. She spoke about the recent launch of the Housing Partnership Fund, which has awarded its first three grants to support local housing creation. She also highlighted the work of the Youth Advisory Committee and the Community Foundation’s continuing priority of increasing educational attainment.

“Philanthropy is always changing,” said Shelly, “But our most important constant is all of you.”

Shelly then introduced the first of three brief presentations from longtime partners of the Community Foundation. Dick and Carol Dunning spoke about the inspiration for the agriculture scholarship they created. Dick talked about being the fourth generation on his family’s farm and shared that “agriculture ran deep in my blood.”

Carol also talked about the influence of family.

“I grew up in a family where giving was the norm,” she said. “My parents established a scholarship at the Community Foundation, and I was so excited to tell my dad that we started a scholarship too, and that it was all because of him.”

Following the Dunnings, Todd DeKryger—a current trustee of the Community Foundation—spoke about the legacy of his parents, Dr. Maynard and Lavina DeKryger. After his father received a scholarship, “he was floored that people here would give their money to help him go to college,” said Todd. “He wanted to come back here and to give back to the community that helped him so much.”

Maynard and Lavina went on to create scholarships at the Community Foundation that help students pursuing careers in healthcare. They also mentored others in the community, including Dr. Jerry and Suzanne Van Wieren, who spoke at the conclusion of the luncheon.

The Van Wierens originally moved to the area as part of a commitment to work in an underserved area for two years after their medical training. However, they stayed on, opening their own practice when the Grant hospital closed.

“Our 41 years in Grant have been a blessing to us,” said Suzanne , a family nurse practitioner.

In the early days of their practice, other local doctors including Maynard DeKryger would cover for them when they took family vacations. When they offered to pay Dr. DeKryger for his time, he would tell them to consider donating to the scholarship fund instead. The Van Wierens have since included the DeKryger scholarship in their will to honor their mentors and to help the next generation of healthcare professionals.

“One of my favorite meditations is a prayer of Saint Francis: ‘For it is in giving that we receive,’” said Jerry. “We have received much from this community, and it is only natural we would want to give some back.”

Fremont Area Community Foundation’s Housing Partnership Fund awarded its first grants to a trio of local housing creation projects. In total, $300,000 was awarded in the first housing grant round.

Projects receiving funding will add an anticipated 13 housing units in the Hesperia and White Cloud areas. The $300,000 awarded will enable recipients to leverage $3 million in total investments.

JNL Hunt Construction was awarded $60,000 to create two two-bedroom apartments in existing buildings in downtown Hesperia. Slate Property Co. was awarded $90,000 to create three apartments in another existing downtown building.

In White Cloud, Allen Edwin Homes was awarded $150,000 to construct up to eight new single-family homes. The homes will be energy-efficient three- and four-bedroom homes.

The grants are made possible through a partnership between the Community Foundation and Newaygo County. County commissioners approved $1 million to help create the Newaygo County Housing Partnership Fund at the Community Foundation. The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees earmarked an additional $500,000. A committee including county officials, Community Foundation staff, and community representatives like Julie Burrell of The Right Place was formed to create grantmaking guidelines and review proposals.

“We are excited to partner with Newaygo County on this exciting opportunity to encourage more housing development in our area,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “There is such a need here, and we are committed to working with local partners to find solutions, provide support, and look for ways to leverage additional funding.”

The need for more local housing development has been identified in numerous studies, all pointing to demand for all types and price points of housing. The latest data indicates a need for 300-400 additional housing units, with the greatest need among families earning between 60-120% of the area median income. Currently, that is defined as $45,420-$90,840 for a four-person household.

“The Newaygo County Board of Commissioners is very pleased with this project getting off to such a promising start,” said Bryan Kolk, chair of the Board of Commissioners. “We are anticipating an even stronger interest with the next round of proposals.”

The second round of housing grants will be open for applications on November 15, with proposals due on January 5. Nonprofit and for-profit developers are eligible to apply. Applicants are encouraged to leverage additional funding sources and seek the support of local municipalities. Housing developments must be located in Newaygo County to be eligible.

For more information on the application process, contact Maria E. Gonzalez or Lindsay Hager at the Community Foundation at 231.924.5350.

Kickstart to Career Newaygo County, the children’s savings account program operated by Fremont Area Community Foundation, will undergo changes beginning this fall.

Since Kickstart to Career was created in 2018, the program has opened more than 3,000 children’s savings accounts for Newaygo County kindergartners with $50 seed deposits from the Community Foundation. The Community Foundation Board of Trustees recently decided to fulfill its commitment to the first five-year cohorts but not add additional students in the future. Instead, funds will be redirected to other educational grants.

Students who started kindergarten in 2022 will be the final Kickstart cohort, with no additional accounts being created. Students who already have Kickstart to Career accounts will still receive their promised incentive deposits—up to $650 per account—but at an accelerated rate over the next three years. During this time, students, families, and friends will also still be able to make deposits into the accounts at a Newaygo County ChoiceOne Bank location.

Once final incentive deposits have been made in 2026, the funds will be available to be withdrawn for eligible education expenses. Students’ parents or guardians will be notified of available funds and how to request withdrawals at that time. Accounts will remain deposit-only until the Community Foundation approves disbursements.

The Community Foundation extends its sincere thanks to ChoiceOne Bank and the staff, educators, and other partners who have supported Kickstart to Career over the last five years.

For more information about program changes and accounts, please visit the Kickstart to Career website or contact Lindsay Hager at the Community Foundation at 231.924.5350.

Estate Planning Week
October 16-22, 2023

Estate plans are a critical but often overlooked part of overall financial wellness for people of all ages and income levels. They’re also a powerful way to leave a legacy in your community.

Harley and Menette Mankin were vaudeville performers in the early 1900s who retired to the Bridgeton area. Through her estate plan, Menette created a fund that continues her local legacy. Although she passed away more than 30 years ago, her fund supported a variety of educational programs all over the county just last year.

Estate Planning Week is a great time to make an appointment with a professional advisor to create or update your own estate plan. We’re proud to partner with a network of professional advisors in our region who can walk you through the process and help you create the best plan for you and your loved ones.

You can also learn more about creating your charitable legacy through your estate plan by talking to a member of our philanthropic services team at 231.924.5350 or your professional advisor.

Becoming president and CEO of Fremont Area Community Foundation is the biggest honor I’ve ever undertaken. Being a CEO entails leadership skills, integrity, and being able to adapt to the needs of a community and your team.

I would estimate that 80% of my job is people and 20% is administrative. I spend a good deal of my time listening and building relationships. It is fascinating to move to an entirely new community, and it was essential that I get to know trustees, staff team members, community leaders, donors, and nonprofit leaders well. I find it remarkable, too, how much you draw on your past career, including my time as a server, as a Habitat for Humanity director, and as CEO of other philanthropic organizations.

As a CEO, as I begin to understand the landscape and people, I’m able to build trust. This helps ensure the Community Foundation’s core values of compassionate and collaborative leadership, trusted stewardship, and courageous and responsive action can be carried out. Nothing is possible alone. Our trustee and staff teams carry forth the work of the Community Foundation in grants, scholarships, and convening in partnership with donors and citizens in order to benefit all people of Newaygo County, as well as those in our affiliate counties.

There are some administrative pieces of the puzzle as well, including developing a strategic framework, ensuring fiscal stewardship, reviewing policies, educating oneself on best practices in philanthropy, and ensuring accountability.

I tell others often how lucky I am to look forward to coming to work every day. But I think, too, that Thomas Jefferson said it well: “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” Fremont Area Community Foundation can do great things through philanthropy. I am filled with optimism about what comes next. Thank you for making me feel like I am home.

We are excited to debut a brand new part of our website this month: a blog! We’re planning to use this feature to bring you monthly updates on our work, the field of philanthropy, and much more. It’s an opportunity for us to give you a more in-depth look at who we are and what we do.

You can look forward to a wide variety of topics, including ways to give, our history, the grant review process, and much more. Coming up first is a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be the president and CEO of the Community Foundation from Shelly Kasprzycki.

Thank you for your interest in our work and for your continued partnership. We are grateful to be part of this community and to serve it alongside you. We hope the new blog will give you even more insight into the work we’re able to do with your help.

Nearly 400 local students and families explored post-secondary opportunities at College and Career Night Out on September 26 at Fremont High School. Representatives from nearly 60 colleges, job training programs, and community resources attended the event.

WE CAN! Newaygo County—the local career and college access network—and Fremont Area Community Foundation partnered on the annual event designed to give students a one-stop opportunity to learn more about post-secondary education, job training, financial aid, and more.

Melissa Miller, Administrator of Career and College Readiness for the Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency, said that the event was designed to spark curiosity and connection regarding college and career opportunities for local students.

“Giving the multitude of factors affecting a student’s choice to pursue higher education or training after high school,” Miller said, “this event continues to be a valuable resource for Newaygo County families. It brings together a diverse array of career and college resources, as well as representatives, all under one roof. Families can establish connections, have their questions addressed and, hopefully, come to realize the ample support available as they navigate the career and college selection process.”

Participants were invited to choose from four different informational sessions on financial aid, choosing a college, the Promise Zone, and preparing for a career through apprenticeships. After presentations and pizza provided by Fremont High School, a college and career fair in the gym allowed students to speak with representatives from a wide variety of schools and job training programs.

Representatives from the Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency, Early College Newaygo County, Gerber Foundation, Michigan Works! West Central, Michigan Student Aid, Newaygo County Area Promise Zone, Newaygo County Career-Tech Center, and Fremont Area Community Foundation were also available to share more about the resources their organizations offer to students and families.

Miller and other event organizers expressed their gratitude to their hosts at Fremont High School, the adults and students who volunteered during the event, session presenters, community partners, and the local businesses who supported food and beverages, including Walmart and Heritage Farms Market.

Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded $2 million in its first community grant round of 2023.

Grant support was awarded to a variety of organizations serving Newaygo County residents, including programs to provide food for local pantries, summer enrichment, library materials, general operating support, and more.

Fremont Lions Club and the City of Fremont were awarded up to $20,000 for the Students in Need of Eyecare (SINE) program. For several years, Fremont Lions Club has partnered with Ferris State University to provide eye exams and glasses to Fremont and Hesperia students whose families cannot afford or do not have access to eyecare. This year, the program is being expanded to include students in Newaygo and White Cloud public schools.

The County of Newaygo was awarded a $99,000 grant for recycling services. The grant will support recycling sites throughout Newaygo County. An individual donor also contributed $1,000 from their donor advised fund to support the program.

Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency was awarded a $255,000 grant for its Parents as Teachers (PAT) program. PAT is an early childhood parent education program based on the philosophy that parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers. Parents receive information, support, and coaching to help them build skills.

Several area summer camps were also awarded grants totaling up to $10,500 to provide support and camp scholarships for Newaygo County youth.

The Community Foundation accepts community grant applications online twice each year. The next deadline is September 1. For more information, visit

From the smallest gifts to the largest grants, every connection we make together expands opportunity in our community. Each effort builds on the last, growing in impact as it flows outward. Hope meeting intention. Optimism becoming action. Our work together creating lasting change.

Our latest annual report explores examples of the people, programs, and connections that inspired us in 2022. Click below to read the full report.

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