The deadline for high school seniors to apply for scholarships from Fremont Area Community Foundation is March 1.

Each year, the Community Foundation awards hundreds of scholarships to Newaygo County students seeking to continue their educations. In 2022, the Community Foundation awarded more than $644,000 in scholarships. These scholarships are all created by generous donors and are tailored to address a wide variety of experiences and circumstances, from planned fields of study to community involvement and extracurricular activities.

In addition to scholarships for students planning to attend college or university, the Community Foundation has multiple scholarships created specifically to support students interested in apprenticeships, trade school, certification programs, or other job training programs. Scholarships are available for students pursuing careers in HVAC, building trades, machining, automotive services, and much more.

To apply for scholarships, students complete just one general application online. They are then automatically matched for review for any eligible scholarships.

For more information or to apply, visit Applications must be submitted no later than March 1.

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.

Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded a $5 million mission-related investment to Great Lakes Energy to expand local access to broadband internet service in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties.

The investment will support Great Lakes Energy’s expansion of their Truestream fiber network, empowering more rural residents with access to the internet connections they need for work, school, and telehealth. The expansion is slated to impact all four counties served by the Community Foundation, including its three geographic affiliate foundations.

Approximately 53 percent of people in Newaygo County do not have broadband access, according to FCC data. While numbers are more encouraging in Mecosta County, a quarter of the population still lacks access to broadband. In Lake and Osceola counties, the number is over 70 percent. This creates significant barriers to working and studying from home, accessing telehealth services, and completing important tasks like looking for a new job or filing taxes. Affordable access to reliable internet can also create new possibilities for business expansion and increased home sales.

“Rural areas like ours are still not widely served by the reliable, high-speed internet that is now a necessity for most people and businesses,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are excited to support the local expansion of broadband service.”

Kasprzycki noted that a mission-related investment is a unique, flexible tool that philanthropic organizations can use to create positive impacts in a community beyond regular grantmaking programs.

“Unlike a typical grant, a mission-related investment is repaid, and because these investments are recovered, it allows our resources to go farther and be used again,” said Kasprzycki. “Great Lakes Energy has an over 85-year history in our state, and we’re proud to partner with them on this important project.”

Great Lakes Energy is the largest member-owned power company in Michigan, serving rural parts of 26 counties in western Michigan. They provide electric service to nearly 29,000 homes and businesses in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties. They launched Truestream, a fiber internet and voice service, in 2018 to provide connections to underserved and unserved rural areas. Nearly 4,000 miles of fiber line has already been installed in 10 counties and nearly 16,000 homes and businesses have been connected.

“This partnership with the Fremont Area Community Foundation furthers our goal to bring internet and voice services to our members,” said Shaun Lamp, president and CEO of Great Lakes Energy and Truestream. “We have already begun expanding the Truestream network in Newaygo County and with this investment will continue the momentum to connect more homes and businesses to life-changing fiber service.”

For more information about Great Lakes Energy’s Truestream network visit

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.

On November 30, Fremont Area Community Foundation hosted 50 representatives from nonprofit organizations across the region at a grantwriting workshop at the Center for Hope and Healing in White Cloud. The workshop was held in partnership with the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University.

Past grant recipients of the Community Foundation and its affiliate foundations in Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola counties were invited to participate in the free learning opportunity led by Tamela Spicer, senior program manager at the Johnson Center. The presentation covered the basics of writing a grant proposal, provided guidance on finding the right voice and writing style, and shared tips for building relationships with potential funders. Organizations were able to submit grant application examples of their own for feedback during a small group peer review exercise.

During the workshop, Community Foundation staff members also provided information for making future grant applications more successful. They shared tips specific to Community Foundation grant rounds and talked about reporting impact. Staff members also answered questions about the grant application and decision-making processes.

“This capacity building workshop was designed to help our community partners and grant recipients be better equipped to secure support not only through the Community Foundation’s grant rounds but through other funding sources as well,” said Lindsay Hager, vice president and chief philanthropy officer at the Community Foundation. “We look forward to hosting more learning opportunities in 2023.”

The Community Foundation’s next grant application deadlines are February 1 for Bridging Generations Fund grants and March 1 for Youth Advisory Committee and community grants. For more information, visit

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.

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.”

More than 50 colleges, job training programs, military organizations, and community resources were represented at College and Career Night Out on September 29 at Fremont High School.

The annual event drew hundreds of students and families from across Newaygo County to learn more about post-secondary education and job training, financial aid, and more. WE CAN! Newaygo County—the local career and college access network—and Fremont Area Community Foundation partnered on the event.

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.

“With so many factors that can influence a student’s decision to pursue higher education or training after high school, this event continues to serve families by bringing numerous career and college resources and representatives under one roof,” said Miller. “Families are able to make connections, get their questions answered, and hopefully realize there are many resources to support them as they navigate this selection process.”

Attendees enjoyed pizza and were able to attend informational sessions on financial aid, choosing a college, the Promise Zone, and career preparation through apprenticeships. After informational sessions concluded, a college and career fair in the gym allowed students to speak with representatives from a wide variety of public and private colleges and universities, military branches, trade schools, and career training programs.

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

Event organizers extend their thanks to their hosts at Fremont High School, the community members and students who volunteered during the event, session presenters, and the local businesses who supported food and beverages, including Biggby Coffee, Family Fare, and Walmart.

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 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.

Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded nearly $2.5 million in its first community grant round of 2022.

Grant support was awarded to a variety of organizations serving Newaygo County residents, including programs addressing economic growth, literacy, housing, food insecurity, and more. Most grant awards concentrated on the Community Foundation’s three focus areas of community and economic development, education, and poverty to prosperity.

More than 40 grants were awarded in total, including a $25,550 grant to The Right Place Foundation. The grant will support the development of a strategic plan to preserve and showcase the communities of Woodland Park and Idlewild and promote economic development. An experienced consultant will be hired to lead the collaborative project. In addition to the grant, three donors contributed a total of $4,450 from their donor advised funds.

Grant Public Schools received a $3,809 grant, along with contributions totaling $1,500 from two donor advised funds, for their Salmon in the Classroom program. This hands-on learning opportunity will allow Grant third graders to observe and study the life cycle of salmon, raising them from eggs until the fish are released into the Muskegon River.

A $39,200 grant was awarded to Hope 101 Ministry’s transitional housing program. The organization serves individuals and families in Newaygo County experiencing homelessness and provides mentors and case management to help residents set goals and achieve self-sufficiency.

The Community Foundation accepts community grant applications online twice each year. Applications for the second grant round of 2022 are due on September 1.

View a full list of grants awarded, as well as information on how to apply for a grant, at

Fremont Area Community Foundation recently held its annual meeting where members elected three new trustees. New board officers were also elected.

Todd DeKryger, Ken DeLaat, and Julie Tatko were each elected by the members to join the Community Foundation board. Members of the Community Foundation are chosen by virtue of their leadership positions in the community, and their primary responsibility is to meet annually to elect trustees.

DeKryger is the regional manager for sustainable agricultural development at Nestlé Nutrition North America. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Michigan State University, including a PhD in resource development.

“I’m excited for this opportunity to serve the community,” said DeKryger of joining the board. “I’ve always been impressed with the Community Foundation and what it has been able to support. I look forward to serving.”

DeLaat is a freelance writer and creator of Near North Now. He has also spent his career working in mental health in various capacities and leadership positions.

“I worked in nonprofit organizations for most of my life,” said DeLaat. “Coming from the nonprofit sector, I always admired the work of the Community Foundation. It’s a real honor to be asked to serve. I hope I can be part of the solutions for issues we face in our community.”

Tatko has a background in community health. She is currently president and CEO of Baldwin Family Health Care, which has facilities in White Cloud and Grant.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how we can look at healthcare as part of the Community Foundation’s poverty to prosperity work,” said Tatko. “I am excited to get to know other people and sectors here. I love the area and appreciate how people here work together to improve the community.”

The new trustees were elected to fill vacancies, including those left as Joseph Roberson and Carolyn Hummel retired from the board. Roberson was first elected in 2012 and most recently served as chair of the board. Hummel was elected in 2013. She was formerly chair of the Community Foundation’s Education Committee and continues to serve on the committee.

Following the members meeting, the Board of Trustees met and elected officers. Dr. Lori Tubbergen Clark was elected chair of the board, with Lola Harmon-Ramsey named vice chair and Mikhail Salacina named secretary. Bill Alsover will remain as treasurer and Dr. Susan Wente will serve as trustee-at-large.

Fremont Area Community Foundation recently expanded their small business loan program through Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) to support businesses in Newaygo, Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola counties.

The Community Foundation created the Small Business Recovery Loan Program with MSUFCU in 2020 to help small businesses in Newaygo County impacted by the pandemic. Now, the Community Foundation is broadening that assistance to business start-ups and expansions as well as pandemic-related needs. Loans will also be available to businesses in the counties served by the Community Foundation’s three affiliate foundations.

“Local small businesses are crucial to the economy in our region,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, Community Foundation president and CEO. “Through our partnership with MSUFCU, we are excited to increase our support of local businesses.”

“MSUFCU recognizes the role small businesses play in communities—they create opportunities, energize the economic base, and cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurialism,” said April Clobes, president and CEO of MSUFCU. “We are pleased to partner with Fremont Area Community Foundation to provide small businesses access to affordable financing through this program.”

Through the partnership with MSUFCU, loans of up to $50,000 are available at a low interest rate. For-profit and nonprofit businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are eligible to apply. The business must be headquartered in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, or Osceola counties.

To inquire about eligibility, start the application process, or get more information, contact Maria E. Gonzalez.

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!

Fremont Area Community Foundation is expanding a partnership with Northern Initiatives to provide loans and technical assistance for small businesses in Newaygo, Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola counties. The expansion allows the Community Foundation to support local businesses in the areas served by their three affiliate foundations as well as in Newaygo County.

Loans are available to entrepreneurs and businesses looking to start or grow their business in the four-county region. Loan recipients also have access to a variety of trainings, tools, coaching, and other supports. They can work one-on-one with a coach as well as access Northern Initiative’s online business resource portal, Initiate.

“Local small businesses are the backbone of the economy in our region,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, Community Foundation president and CEO. “We have been proud to partner with Northern Initiatives in Newaygo County over the last several years and are excited to support this expansion of their services here and in Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola counties.”

“We help entrepreneurs who have been overlooked or denied by other financial institutions and give them the support they need to start and grow their businesses,” said Elissa Sangalli, president of Northern Initiatives. “Those businesses go on to support families, neighborhoods, and communities.”

The Community Foundation has partnered with Northern Initiatives—a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)—since 2016 to create a regional revolving loan fund to serve businesses who may not quality for traditional funding. In 2021, Northern Initiatives facilitated more than $475,000 in loans to Newaygo County businesses.

Interested businesses can apply directly through Northern Initiatives. Learn more at

On February 24, the Community Foundation hosted its fifth Stronger Together Series virtual event with a conversation on the experiences of local women in the workforce and during the pandemic.

Shelly Kasprzycki, Community Foundation president and CEO, welcomed the audience and introduced the evening’s moderator, Dr. Jennifer Drake, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University.

Drake began by sharing findings from the 2021 Women in the Michigan Workforce report. The report found that between February and December 2020, approximately 136,000 Michigan women left the workforce and that women working full-time make about 78 cents on the dollar compared to men working full-time. In more encouraging news, Drake noted that a Pew Research Center report found women have made significant educational gains, with higher rates of college enrollment and degree completion than men.

Along with Drake, the evening’s panel included Julie Burrell, Newaygo County’s economic development director through The Right Place; Carolyn Hummel, retired educator and the first female principal of Fremont Middle School; and Melissa Dykman, Newaygo County Probate Court Judge.

When asked how their identity as women shaped expectations others had of them, Hummel talked about being the only girl in her advanced math class in high school. “My friends said, ‘Math is just too hard for girls,’” she remembered.

Other panelists commented that pressure often comes from within. “The pressure really comes from me,” said Burrell. “I definitely put pressure on myself to wear all the hats and do all the things.”

When asked about barriers they have faced, Hummel talked about being denied a promotion after asking why a male coworker with less experience was making more than she was.

“At that time, by asking that question, I was blacklisted,” said Hummel. “I realize now if it hadn’t been for that, I would never have gotten my dream job, but it was a little traumatizing at first.”

Panelists also spoke about the experiences and people who have helped them grow. Burrell mentioned the importance of finding an ally. “Whether you call it mentorship, allyship—I think it’s really helpful for anyone in their career, but especially women,” she said. “You need to have people in your corner.”

Dykman talked about the importance of growing up with parents who “believed there was nothing a boy could do that their daughters couldn’t.” She also shared that she is grateful to have built her career in Newaygo County, “where I had great people to work with.” Dykman said that the lawyers and judges she interacted with “never treated me any differently. They were all invested in me being the best I could be and teaching me.”

During a time for questions at the end of the event, the panelists emphasized the importance of women encouraging other women.

“It’s important to identify those women you see who are up-and-coming and embrace them and be their advocate,” said Burrell.

Dykman added, “It goes back to something like today’s event. Having these discussions and hearing from multiple generations not only helps us understand where we’re at and what we need to do to improve but also where we can from. People like Carolyn made it easier for me, and I can make it easier for those coming up.”

Stronger Together is a series of events designed to look at differences, identity, and the stories that shape our lives. More information on the series—including recordings of past events—can be found at

The Community Foundation awarded $3.3 million in its second community grant round of 2021, bringing the total awarded in both rounds in 2021 to nearly $5.6 million.

Grant support was awarded to a variety of organizations serving Newaygo County residents, including programs addressing economic development, college and career access, housing, literacy, and more. Most grant awards concentrated on the Community Foundation’s three focus areas of community and economic development, education, and poverty to prosperity.

More than 50 grants were awarded in total, including a $100,000 grant to Newaygo County for recycling services, continuing the Community Foundation’s long history of supporting recycling. Another grant for $133,000 was awarded to Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency (NC RESA) to support WE CAN! Newaygo County and the Newaygo County Area Promise Zone. Both NC RESA programs work to increase access to post-secondary education and training as well as help address barriers to success for local students.

Several local youth camps were also awarded grants to support summer camp scholarships. These scholarships help to cover the cost of a camp experience for local children who may have difficulty affording it otherwise. Scholarships typically cover 75 percent of camp registration.

The Community Foundation accepts community grant applications online twice each year. Applications for the first grant round of 2022 are due on March 1.

View a full list of grants awarded, as well as information on how to apply for a grant, at

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.

Ours is a community full of generosity. Taking advantage of the charitable tax deduction is just one way to enhance your own year-end giving.

The charitable provisions in the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act) have been extended to include several measures to enhance your charitable giving in 2021.

  • Taxpayers who do not itemize deductions:
    Eligible for a charitable deduction of up to $600 ($300/individual) on their 2021 federal tax return
  • Taxpayers who itemize deductions:
    Lifts the deduction cap for charitable gifts of cash from 60% of adjusted gross income to 100%
  • Corporations:
    Deduction cap has been lifted for gifts of cash from 10% of taxable income to 25%

These measures do not apply to gifts to donor advised funds.

For more information on how you can continue to support causes that are important to you while maximizing your charitable gifts, talk to a member of our philanthropic services team at 231.924.5350 or contact your professional advisor.