Fremont Area Community Foundation’s annual Spring Donors Luncheon featured Alex Gorsky, former chairman and CEO of Johnson and Johnson, as its guest speaker. More than 110 donors attended the June 20 luncheon, held at the Pavilion at Waters Edge.

Gorsky is a graduate of Fremont High School and the United States Military Academy at West Point. After serving in the Army, Gorsky began his career with Johnson and Johnson in 1988 as a sales representative. He became chair and CEO in 2012. Under his leadership, the company grew from approximately $60 billion to $100 billion in total sales.

The luncheon featured Gorsky in conversation with Shelly Kasprzycki, the Community Foundation’s president and CEO. They talked about Gorsky’s experiences growing up in Fremont, serving in the Army, and leading Johnson and Johnson during a pandemic.

Gorsky’s parents, Al and Loretta Gorsky, moved their family to Fremont in the early 1970s for Al’s job with Gerber. While leaving relatives and moving to a small rural community was a big change, Gorsky remembers that the community here quickly embraced them.

“Our family, we just love this community,” said Gorsky. “I wouldn’t be where I am without the community of Fremont.”

Gorsky also talked about fielding calls in his kitchen from world leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic as his company worked to develop a vaccine. “It was an incredibly emotional time,” he said. “We were on a mission.”

Reflecting on challenges and opportunities in healthcare, Gorsky shared, “We’ve never seen a time of so much technology and innovation as we’re seeing now.”

In recent years, the Gorsky family has been instrumental in the revival of the Waters Edge property, including the golf course, restaurant, the Pavilion event space, and The Bunker. “This is a special place for Newaygo County, and we want it to be here for the long term,” he said. He also recognized his wife, Pat Gorsky, for her work managing many of the project details.

In addition to their work at Waters Edge, the Gorsky family are active philanthropists and have created a fund at the Community Foundation as part of their ongoing commitment to this area.

“This community has been such an important part of our lives,” said Gorsky. “We have always had a warm place in our hearts for this community. We feel it’s our responsibility to give back.”

These reflections on 2023 are featured in our latest annual report. You can explore the full report here.

From our President and Board Chair

In 2023, we awarded $8.6 million in grants, gave scholarships to 327 students, and issued $5.1 million in impact investments. We also launched the Newaygo County Housing Partnership Fund to support housing creation. Grants from the fund have allowed recipients to leverage nearly $9 million in total project investments so far.

Along with the successes of 2023, we also experienced the loss of our friend Mary Rangel. Mary served on our Board of Trustees for nine years and chaired our Poverty to Prosperity Committee. Her legacy will live on through her family, her endowment fund, the many people she helped, and the lessons we learned from her about exercising compassion, optimism, and dedication.

It is partners like Mary—and people like you—who shape our work. By partnering closely with donors and organizations, we can proactively find solutions and take courageous action. Money alone will never solve problems. We must work together and recognize that it is often small steps that truly create a brighter future.

We hope you enjoy this annual report and that it sparks ideas for ways we can partner in the year ahead. Thank you for your philanthropy through volunteering, acts of kindness, donating to causes you care most about, and helping lead change. You make all the difference.

Shelly Kasprzycki, President and CEO
Lori Tubbergen Clark, PhD, 2023 Board Chair

The application period for grants from the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund is now open. Completed applications are due by July 15.

Grant requests are accepted online for projects or programs that conserve, enhance, or restore the Muskegon River Watershed and demonstrate collaboration among organizations. Projects considered for grants must be located within the Muskegon River Watershed, which is one of Michigan’s largest and spans 2,700 square miles from near Higgins and Houghton lakes to Muskegon.

The Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund was established at Fremont Area Community Foundation in 2002 by what is now BlueTriton Brands. In 2018, Ice Mountain renewed its support with a $2 million commitment over the next 20+ years.

Grants are made from the fund to sustain the waters and water-dependent natural resources of the Muskegon River Watershed by supporting conservation, enhancement, and restoration projects. The fund provides up to $50,000 annually and typical grants are from $5,000 to $20,000. In 2023, grants from the fund supported trail and bridge construction on Michigan’s Dragon Trail, hazardous waste collection, tree planting for stream bank stabilization, and more.

For more information or to begin an online grant application, visit facommunityfoundation.org/icemountain. Applications can be submitted June 1 through July 15.

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.

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 facommunityfoundation.org/grants.

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 facommunityfoundation.org/icemountain.

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.

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.

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 facommunityfoundation.org/grants.

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.

Download PDF

The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) of Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded $61,800 in grants to programs and organizations serving Newaygo County young people.

Grants were awarded to programs supporting youth facing challenges, engaging youth in social and recreational activities, and providing educational opportunities to promote leadership skills and future success.

Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes was awarded an $8,000 grant for its comprehensive career readiness program. Local students will get the opportunity to hear from volunteers in a variety of fields to learn more about different industries and career pathways.

White Cloud Community Library will use a $4,850 grant to support new youth programs, purchase books, and continue popular activities like the annual Haunted Library at Halloween.

Other YAC grants will support mentoring programs, summer enrichment classes, nature exploration, and more. In total, seven different programs received funding.

Grant applications were reviewed by YAC members who come from each Newaygo County public high school and the local homeschool community. Throughout the school year, YAC members also spend time building leadership skills and learning about philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.

YAC grants are awarded each spring with applications due on March 1. For more information, visit facommunityfoundation.org/YACgrants.

The application periods for grants from the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund and The Amazing X Charitable Trust are now open. Completed applications are due by July 17.

The Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund was established at the Community Foundation in 2002 by what is now BlueTriton Brands. In 2018, Ice Mountain renewed its support with a $2 million commitment over the next 20+ years. More than $800,00 has been awarded from the fund since its inception.

Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund grants are made to sustain the waters and water-dependent natural resources of the Muskegon River Watershed by supporting conservation, enhancement, and restoration projects. In 2022, grants from the fund supported hazardous waste collection, the creation of a buffer zone at Sandy Beach, work on the Dragon Trail at Hardy Dam, and more. For more information or to begin an online grant application, visit facommunityfoundation.org/icemountain.

The Amazing X Charitable Trust is a supporting organization of the Community Foundation and was established in 1978 by members of the Gerber family. Grant applications are accepted for projects or programs that serve people with disabilities and address general charitable needs. Past grants have supported respite programs, equine therapy, adult day groups, accessibility projects, and more. For more information or to apply, visit our supporting organization grants page.

Applications for both grant rounds are accepted once each year, typically by July 15. However, because the 15th falls on a weekend this year, applications are being accepted until 11:59 p.m. on July 17.

With the beautiful spring season in full bloom, we are so pleased to welcome two new staff members to our team, Shelly Henderson and Greg Poches.

Shelly grew up in this area and is a former county employee. Her new position with the Community Foundation includes assisting with the grant administration process and supporting our affiliate foundations and supporting organizations.

Greg is our new community investment officer, specializing in community and economic development and natural resources. He is a lifelong Newaygo County resident, loves the outdoors, and has a business and environmental background. Please join me in welcoming Greg and Shelly to the world of philanthropy!

Did you know April was National Financial Literacy Month? A 2021 survey showed that as many as 75 percent of American teens lack confidence in their knowledge of personal finance. In a world barraged with messages about purchasing, teaching children about money is essential. P.T. Barnum said, “Money is good for nothing unless you know the value of it by experience.” The Community Foundation funds an array of programs to support financial literacy. You can also find some practical tips in one of our most recent professional advisor articles.

We are grateful for people like you who make the grants, scholarships, and programs we support possible. Please stop in today or call me if you’d like to be a part of sharing philanthropy. And enjoy the blooms and all Newaygo County has to offer!

On May 11, Fremont Area Community Foundation hosted more than 70 donors for lunch and a report on the organization’s recently updated strategic framework. The luncheon was held at The Pavilion at Waters Edge in Fremont.

Shelly Kasprzycki, the Community Foundation’s president and CEO, welcomed guests and, after lunch, shared highlights from the new strategic framework. One area Kasprzycki touched on was the organization’s guiding principles of building goodwill, earning trust, and strengthening relationships.

“These guiding principles are absolutely essential to our work,” said Kasprzycki. “A community foundation is nothing unless we have the trust of donors and of the community we serve. We want to be the very best vessel for philanthropic endeavors we can be.”

Kasprzycki also talked about the idea of positive disruption. “It means taking a pro-active approach to creating positive, lasting change,” she said. As an example, Kasprzycki and Lindsay Hager, vice president and chief philanthropy officer, shared that the Community Foundation is exploring a new initiative to help address the local housing shortage.

Following the presentation, those in attendance were given the chance to share their own thoughts on the strategic framework and their ideas for enhancing the Community Foundation’s efforts.

“We are grateful for your contributions,” said Kasprzycki. “Everything we do is made possible by you.”

The Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund is celebrating 20 years of funding programs that protect and enhance the Muskegon River watershed.

The fund was established at Fremont Area Community Foundation in 2002 through the generosity of Great Spring Waters of America, Inc., now BlueTriton Brands. In 2018, Ice Mountain renewed its support with a $2 million commitment over the next 20+ years. As an endowed fund of the Community Foundation, this fund is a permanent, ever-growing resource dedicated to improving the overall health of the watershed.

“We have been proud to partner with Ice Mountain over the last 20 years to support sustaining the waters of the Muskegon River watershed,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “The Muskegon River has always been a critical resource to our communities. Thanks to Ice Mountain’s generosity and the work of partner organizations throughout the watershed, we are striving to ensure that the river and its watershed are protected and enhanced for generations to come.”

More than $800,000 has been awarded from the fund to projects focused on conservation, enhancement, and restoration of the watershed.

Since 2002, grants have supported erosion control and bank stabilization projects, environmental assessments and studies, clean up and waste collection programs, educational programs for local students and property owners, and more. Grant recipients have included multiple school systems, conservation districts, parks commissions, municipalities, and other organizations doing important work in the watershed.

“BlueTriton Brands and Ice Mountain are committed to supporting initiatives to protect and enhance the health and natural beauty of the Muskegon River Watershed, which as Michigan’s largest watershed, is important as an ecologic and economic resource,” said Arlene Anderson-Vincent of the company’s commitment to the IMESF. “We value our longstanding partnership with Fremont Area Community Foundation to fund conservation, community, and environmental group projects across the entire stretch of the watershed.”

This year, grants totaling $56,500 were awarded to five projects, including Mecosta Conservation District’s hazardous waste collection, the Dragon Trail at Hardy Dam, and Central Michigan District Health Department’s scanning of septic and well records. A full list of grants awarded can be found on the Community Foundation’s website.

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 facommunityfoundation.org/icemountain.