The Community Foundation is home to more than 750 different charitable funds that range in size from $10,000 to $30 million. While these funds were created for a wide range of purposes, they all can be organized into six main types. Here is a quick look at the different fund types we offer and some real examples of each.

Donor advised funds are convenient and flexible. With this type of fund, the donor can personally recommend grants from the fund to different organizations or causes of their choice.

Mother and daughter Joan and Cathy Obits created a donor advised fund together to help meet needs in their community.



Designated funds are created to benefit a specific charity or programs of a nonprofit organization.

June Britt created the Jerry and June Britt Fund, which supports the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and their work benefitting youth transitioning out of foster care.



Field of interest funds allow the donor to choose the interest area they care about most that their fund can be used to support. Our board then awards grants from the fund to address needs within the chosen field.

John and Ailene Pugno created a field of interest fund dedicated to environmental causes.



Scholarship funds help Newaygo County students achieve their educational goals. The Community Foundation offers scholarships for high school seniors, current college students, medical students, and adult students.

Sisters Sarah Coville and Emily Zoulek graduated from Newaygo High School and went into careers in healthcare. They created a scholarship for other Newaygo graduates planning to enter similar fields.



Unrestricted funds allow us to address the changing and most critical needs in Newaygo County. These funds provide maximum flexibility. One of the things that makes our Community Foundation unique is our relatively high percentage of unrestricted funds. It allows us to offer a robust community grant program.

At age 95, Harold Kalsbeek created an unrestricted fund to support his lifelong home community.



Agency endowments are created by an organization to provide a sustainable source of long-term funding.

Baldwin Family Health Care has an agency endowment fund to support their ongoing work and community health programs.



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 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 is home to over 700 funds, thanks to the generosity of others. For decades, people in Newaygo County have partnered with us to impact a future they couldn’t predict simply because they love this community. Let’s take a look back to where it all started!

Our story began in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression when two visionary philanthropists changed the future of Newaygo County forever. A gift of $5,700 from the estate of Harry Williams established a fund to support the general well-being of Newaygo County. The same year, a bequest of $31,000 from Jacob Andrew Gerber was established to support charitable projects. In a period of crisis, their acts of generosity were both timely and timeless.

After Mattie Gerber, wife of Jacob Andrew, added to her husband’s fund in 1944, local attorney William J. Branstrom, well-known for his philanthropy and civic engagement, consolidated the funds from Harry Williams and the Gerbers with his own. With these funds, Branstrom—along with Frank Gerber, Horace Loomis, Dick Pikaart, and Herman Schuiteman—created a private foundation called the Fremont Foundation in 1951.

Bessie Slautterback, a tenacious special education teacher, was hired as Executive Secretary—or what we might call today the executive director—and became our first employee. Intelligent and relentless, she led the Foundation for over two decades. She championed arts and education and worked to build community support.

In 1972, we reorganized to become a public community foundation in response to changing tax laws and a continuing desire to serve the whole county. From 1972 to 1994, our assets grew from $10 million to $65 million, and we granted approximately $2.5 million annually to organizations and programs at work in Newaygo County.

In 1994, Gerber Products, Inc. was sold to Sandoz of Switzerland. Our organization, which owned 1.8 million shares of Gerber stock, saw its assets grow from $65 million to $109 million virtually overnight.

Another important milestone six years later reflected our continuing commitment to the community as a whole. In 2000, the Foundation changed its name to Fremont Area Community Foundation, emphasizing its goal to serve all of Newaygo County.

What began with modest charitable funds in 1933 has grown to become one of the largest community foundations in the U.S. on a per capita basis and the fourth largest in Michigan based on total assets. Our history is built with this kind of forward-looking generosity. Through the Community Foundation’s careful stewardship and investment, the generous gifts of countless community members, from 1933 until today, will continue to grow and serve our area forever. We look forward to celebrating our 75th anniversary in 2026 and are excited to share this important milestone with you!






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.

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!

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!

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.