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.”

On October 6, Fremont Area Community Foundation hosted more than 60 donors for lunch and an update on the organization’s strategic planning. The luncheon was held at The Shack Country Inn on Robinson Lake in White Cloud.

Shelly Kasprzycki, the Community Foundation’s president and CEO, welcomed guests and, after lunch, shared updates on what the organization has learned through its strategic planning process. Data gathering to begin the process included analyzing research on local needs as well as interviews and focus groups with donors, nonprofit leaders, and other community members.

Data showed that while poverty has fallen since 2010, the pandemic and inflation have increased food insecurity. Affordable housing continues to be an issue as well, with estimates showing our area is around 250 houses short of the local need.

Kasprzycki noted that feedback from donors highlighted the Community Foundation’s stewardship and integrity. “For staff and trustees, that’s the highest compliment,” she said. She also shared feedback from grantees, which included interest in a proactive response to big issues and creating a more streamlined, transparent grantmaking process.

“We’re thinking about these emerging themes and how we build them in,” said Kasprzycki, who expects trustees to approve a final strategic plan by year’s end. “We’re always listening and always interested in what you need from us.  We’re so grateful for people like you.”

Fremont Area Community Foundation is currently monitoring the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in both the state and our local region. We have taken steps to protect the health of our staff, trustees, and others by closing our office to the public, postponing events, and encouraging staff to work remotely. We also know that many of our nonprofit partners are now experiencing an increased need for services, especially as they work to support the most vulnerable members of our communities. We have worked hard to determine the best ways for our community and philanthropy to respond.

On March 19, we established the Community Response Fund to rapidly deploy resources to nonprofit organizations in Newaygo County as well as the three counties served by our affiliate foundations: Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola. The fund will provide quick help to organizations serving vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19 and will give generous community members an easy way to support them.

Donate now

Give now to support the organizations, programs, and staff on the front lines of response in your community. You can designate your gift to a specific county.
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Apply for a grant

Is your organization supporting children, older adults, and other vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19? Apply for a grant from our Community Response Fund. Grants will be considered that address issues such as childcare, food insecurity, healthcare, transportation, financial assistance, general operating support, and other identified needs. For more information, contact Mark Petz, director of community investment, by email or at 231.519.1464.

To view a list of grants made from the fund so far, visit the grants awarded page of our website and sort by “Community Response Fund.”

Other resources

If you are looking for food, housing, transportation, or financial assistance, please call 211. You can also access a list of resources from their website.

For more information on COVID-19 and local response actions, visit the following websites:

Our President and CEO Carla Roberts was recently published in The Foundation Review, a peer-reviewed journal for the field of philanthropy. Her article, “From Charitable Giving to Strategic Impact,” details the Community Foundation’s journey toward more strategic grantmaking and increased impact.

In 2011, we launched a community investment strategy focused on education, poverty, and economic development. These strategies were developed with significant community involvement and input into the planning and designed to improve the quality of life for all Newaygo County residents. It took time as well as assistance in the form of backbone services and tools to monitor impact to make the transition to these new ways of thinking. As we’ve moved ahead with our second five-year strategic plan, we are guided by research and learning, community feedback, grantee survey results, and evidence of where the work has contributed to positive outcomes for the people and organizations we serve.

Read the full article HERE.

In 2026, Fremont Area Community Foundation will celebrate 75 years of generosity and impact in Newaygo County. As part of this milestone anniversary, we are looking for 75 new people who want to support the community they love both today and into the future.

These people are emerging philanthropists–passionate, driven, and committed to making lasting change in our community. As we draw closer to our 75th anniversary, this group will play a vital role in building the future of Newaygo County.

To join Our Next 75, we only ask three simple things:

1. Give today

Establish a named fund or make an annual gift of $250 or more to an endowed fund at the Community Foundation.

2. Give tomorrow

Include the Community Foundation in your estate plan.

3. Share your story

Share with us why you chose to give back to the community.


Dawn Williams: First Member of Our Next 75

At age 15, Dawn Williams was the Hair Station’s first receptionist. Today she’s the Fremont salon’s owner. Along with her daughter Morgan, Dawn had an idea to create a fund that would help cosmetology students at the Newaygo County Career-Tech Center pay for tests and equipment they need to get started in their careers. Using the Build-a-Fund program, the Hair Station Fund is steadily growing with help from staff and clients.

More than 50 Community Foundation donors gathered for the annual Fall Donors Luncheon at the Stone Lodge on October 30. Along with time for catching up and conversation, the luncheon program focused on recent activities in the area of community and economic development.

Carla Roberts, FACF president and CEO, shared that when the organization conducted a community needs assessment in 2016 in Newaygo County and affiliate counties of Mecosta, Lake, and Osceola, a common theme rose to the top.

“Across all four counties, the key concerns identified by respondents focused on jobs and the economy,” said Roberts. “We considered these results as an affirmation of the direction we had been heading in since 2011 when we began to focus on education, prosperity, and a vibrant economy. All of these efforts are focused on talent development and making sure that we have the workforce we will need for the future.”

Roberts summarized some of the Community Foundation’s recent work to support entrepreneurship and small business development as well as efforts to create a Newaygo County Employer Resource Network (ERN). She then introduced James Vander Hulst, president and CEO of Michigan ERN.

ERNs, explained Vander Hulst, are networks of employers who come together to grapple with issues like turnover and employee retention. Employers identify common issues and share best practices. A key component of ERNs is hiring a success coach who spends time at each company and acts as an advocate for employees. Coaches help identify and find solutions to issues that may prevent an employee from making it to work and being successful.

“If you believe your employees are your greatest asset, how are you creating a culture that keeps them coming back?” asked Vander Hulst.

Guests then heard from Scott Faulkner, a longtime advocate of tourism in Newaygo County who has served as a leader in organizations like River Country Chamber of Commerce, Newaygo Nationals Association, and the Newaygo County Tourism Council.

Faulkner shared updates on the development of The Dragon, a 48-mile trail around Hardy Pond. When completed, the trail will span four townships and two counties and will feature 39 water crossings.

“It should be an incredible draw for mountain bikers and pedestrians,” said Faulkner, who estimates that the trail will bring in at least $4 million in revenue. “It will be the only one like it in North America.”

On Monday, Dec. 21 President Obama signed the PATH Act, making the tax-free IRA Charitable Rollover permanent law.

How it works:

  • People age 70 1/2 or older can make a gift of up to $100,000 by transferring IRA assets to Fremont Area Community Foundation. If married, each spouse can transfer up to $100,000 from their IRA.
  • IRA transfer gifts can create or contribute to an unrestricted, field-of-interest, designated, or scholarship fund. Unfortunately, transfers to create or contribute to donor-advised funds are not allowed.
  • These gifts become part of a permanent endowment, which means they’ll help every person in Newaygo County have a bright future for years to come.

The bill makes the tax-free IRA rollover retroactive to December 31, 2014, which means gifts transferred directly from a donor’s IRA to us at any point during 2015 will qualify as a rollover gift.

If you have questions or want to take advantage of this opportunity, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our philanthropic services team.

Lynne Robinson learned about the importance of service from her parents and grandparents.

“They always looked for the positive in people,” she said. “They taught me to help find solutions, not be part of the problem.

On June 30, Lynne and her husband David were honored for a lifetime of service by receiving the Council of Michigan Foundation (CMF) Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy. The award was presented at the Governor’s Service Awards event in Detroit.

Lynne, a retired elementary school teacher with 33 years of experience, completed nine years of service as a Trustee of Fremont Area Community Foundation in June of this year. She has been an active ambassador of the Community Foundation and was involved in several committees during her tenure, chairing the distribution and education committees. Under her leadership, the Community Foundation adopted the ambitious Goal 2025 and created a partnership with WE CAN! Newaygo County, the local college and career access network.

David, a retired registered nurse, is currently a board member at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial and serves on the board of education for Grant Public Schools. He is also the vice president of the board for the Newaygo County Regional Educational Services Agency (NC RESA) and served on the academic preparation/high school graduation action team for WE CAN! Newaygo County.

The Robinsons received the Russell G. Mawby award for demonstrating a lifetime commitment to encouraging private action for the public good though the giving of time, talent, and resources.

David and Lynne’s contributions to the Grant and Newaygo County area are widespread. They include leadership in a successful campaign for a new district library in Grant, volunteering to help catalogue over 10,000 artifacts for the Newaygo County Museum and Heritage Center, and giving to numerous funds at the Fremont Area Community Foundation for two decades. The Robinsons were also active in the Community Foundation’s 2006 Hunger Initiative in cooperation with Feeding America West Michigan. This work involved volunteering at numerous mobile food pantries.

As one judge for the award said, “Lynne and Dave see a need and pitch in—we should all be so lucky to have them as neighbors!”

Carla Roberts, Community Foundation President and CEO, also praised the Robinsons.

“This award is the highest honor given by CMF each year to applaud a lifetime of giving and service,” she said. “Lynne and Dave have been tireless in their volunteerism and work to make the Community Foundation, schools, and other local nonprofits be sustainable organizations that improve the lives of Newaygo County residents.”

CMF and the Michigan Nonprofit Association created the Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy in 1995 to honor the founder of both organizations. Mawby is also the retired chairman and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The award honors Mawby’s work and philosophy in encouraging private action for the public good through philanthropy.