As we kick off 2023, we are delighted to approach philanthropy with a renewed mission and strategic framework. We’ll be sharing details early in the year as we finalize our work plan and partner with donors to fulfill our promise to make our community even more vibrant.

I count my blessings to work with such generous people to make our community a better place. I am so optimistic about our future! Did you know that Newaygo County recently ranked 13th among small counties for talent attraction across the nation? That we saw positive increases from 2017-2021 in educational attainment and availability of jobs? These statistics, from Lightcast’s annual talent attraction scorecard, demonstrate our steadfast commitment to make real progress. That takes all of us working together, and the Community Foundation is proud to be a strong partner in our success.

On a personal note, my heart is warmed through by the strength of services for the most vulnerable in our community. I know we can do even more, and the Community Foundation staff and trustees are more committed than ever to making that happen. Call me anytime with your thoughts. I wish you a safe and happy winter season.

As we near the holiday season, we are reminded of the oft-spoken quote, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all.” The Community Foundation is celebrating successes in partnership with our donors to improve quality of life for all people in Newaygo County and surrounding communities. We are proud of our staff and trustee team, the grants and scholarships awarded, and the relationships built. But we also know the value of combining goodwill with innovation, of reaching even farther to build and leverage partnerships and resources, and of facilitating change one step at a time.

This year, we embarked on a new strategic planning process. We will be implementing a plan that continues to address poverty, education, and community and economic development, but also prioritizes civility, placemaking, and the environment. We hope to strengthen our community investments through leveraging additional funds from federal, state, and private sources. We look forward to taking a proactive approach to one of our biggest local issues: affordable housing.

Civility and how we embody goodwill will be embraced in our work. We hope you will join us in setting aside differences to work together and lift up our communities. I’m so delighted to lead the Community Foundation, thanks to the wonderful people who make that leadership possible.

I recently read George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. He copied these rules from French Jesuits at age 16. Some seem silly—“Rule 16:  Do not puff up the cheeks, loll not out the tongue….”—but others carry just as much gravity now. My favorite is the 110th rule: “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

Let us follow that 110th rule and bear goodwill to all this season. We are truly grateful for you, and we wish you and your family a blessed holiday season.

Autumn is upon us! Thank you to the many people and organizations who have given us feedback as we engage in strategic planning. Trustees and staff are listening to the community and finding innovative ways to enhance our philanthropy. The Community Foundation belongs to Newaygo County, and we are very cognizant of the legacy we hold and the future we can impact.

A hallmark of the Community Foundation is being a trusted steward of community funds. We value that trust, and we are thoroughly examining what we’ve done well in grantmaking and convening and seeking to enhance our role in a more innovative way in coming years. We’ve learned that grantees appreciate when we are flexible and able to address community needs quickly. We also know that the pandemic changed our perspective on how to attain real and lasting positive change.

We plan to wrap up our strategic planning process and have new goals to share by year’s end. Please look for further information about this unfolding process coming soon.

This summer, we were pleased to welcome Todd DeKryger, Ken DeLaat, and Julie Tatko to our Board of Trustees. You can read more about them here. We are delighted to have their collective wealth of experience join our board.

On another note, we were excited to once again partner on College and Career Night Out at the end of September. Our trustees and staff are so proud of our commitment to educational success. Another example of this commitment is our scholarship program. The online application for high school seniors opened October 1. To learn more, please visit our website or call us at 231.924.5350.

My first year as president and CEO has been the most rewarding of my career. My family has fallen in love with Newaygo County. Thank you for making us feel welcomed as community members, and for the joy and privilege of serving as president and CEO of your Community Foundation.

As summer closes and the crisp air begins, we are delighted at the Community Foundation to see many exciting endeavors taking place. Thank you to the many individuals who gave us feedback as we engage in strategic planning. The trustees and staff are hard at work listening to the community and finding innovative ways to enhance our philanthropy. The Community Foundation belongs to Newaygo County, and we are very cognizant of the legacy we hold and how our work can impact the future. Stay tuned as we will share what we’ve learned and what we have planned as the trustees approve new goals by year’s end.

One another note, it is once again time for College and Career Night Out coming up on September 29. Our scholarship application will open just a few days later on October 1. The Community Foundation trustees and staff are so proud of our commitment to educational success. To learn more about our scholarships, please visit facommunityfoundation.org/scholarships or call us today at 231.924.5350.

And now for a moment of gratitude: “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”-Voltaire. My first year as president and CEO is nearly complete, and it has been the most rewarding of my career. My family has fallen in love with Newaygo County. Thank you for making us feel welcomed as community members, and for the joy and privilege of serving as president and CEO.

Dear friends,

As spring fully blooms, I am reminded of the promise of young people as I see them plan for prom, summer jobs, and graduation. So many hopes and dreams are on the precipice of reality. And thus, the Community Foundation plays an important role by investing in young lives. We have opened over 2,400 Kickstart to Career savings accounts and, last year, we awarded scholarships to more than 350 students and funded more than $1.8 million in education-related grants.

I am troubled when I hear the derogatory term “snowflake” to describe youth as lazy, protected, and entitled. What I see here in Newaygo County are hardworking kids—children that need our loving guidance and just enough freedom to develop their own minds and sense of self. Our young citizens will be the leaders of the future and the workforce to keep our economy growing. They will guide family values. I hope they will also be able to break the cycle of contempt for our fellow people and find real solutions to long-term problems.

If you need an example of the tenacity, creativity, and leadership of young people, take a look at our Youth Advisory Committee. They engage in grantmaking, leadership, volunteerism, and building friendships across school boundaries, socioeconomic status, and geography. The world today is a complicated place with criticism often overriding compassion, but I am heartened to see these students’ commitment to making the world around them better.

We’re proud to partner with you to help young people through opportunities like Kickstart to Career, scholarships, and more. Kids are doing so much more than we realize in sometimes very challenging circumstances. Hope shines eternal!

Dear friends:

As we begin a new year, I enjoy the task of preparing a new notebook, full of possibilities, ideas, tasks, and plans. I am reminded of the words of songwriter Brad Paisley, “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book.” Together, I want our community to write an excellent 2022 book.

We are kicking off 2022 following a banner year for grantmaking and investments. Changes in leadership took place, and our team feels stronger than ever. Change can be difficult, but the Community Foundation team rose to the challenge, and Newaygo County residents couldn’t have been more welcoming to me.

Coming in 2022, we anticipate enhancing our community investments through strengthened grant processes and refreshed community partnerships. I appreciate all the visits I’ve had with residents and look forward to many more. The legacy of past donors and involvement of current donors has funded many programs supporting the reduction of poverty, our vibrant arts and cultural community, preservation of history, literacy, youth development, recycling, economic development work, and scholarships. The breadth and depth of the grants awarded is amazing, and we are grateful to you for being a part of it.

Though the past two years have been difficult, I believe this community has great assets and, together, we can overcome the challenges we face with real solutions, one step at a time. Our Board of Trustees and staff will look at our lessons learned and update our strategic plan and how we implement grants, partnerships, and work with donors.

Thank you for being a part of our Community Foundation, and we look forward to sharing exciting updates this year.