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Community Foundation Awards $300K through Wilfred and Joan Larson Endowment

[Photo credit: Leelanau Children’s Center // Image description: A young girl with shoulder length blonde hair at the Children's Center sink helping to wash asparagus.]

A total of $300,000 in grants, including $100,000 in scholarship grants, has been awarded from the Wilfred and Joan Larson Endowment, a fund stewarded by the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation. Eighteen nonprofit organizations and schools across Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau Counties received grant awards.

The Larson Endowment was made possible through the largest cumulative gift in the Community Foundation’s 30-year history—a total of $15 million—from the late Wilfred and Joan Larson. In partnership with endowment advisor, Larry Nelson, the Community Foundation ensures that grantmaking is aligned with the Larson’s philanthropic interests to support emerging needs and opportunities over time across the region, especially in the areas of education, the environment, youth, arts and culture, and health and human services.

“We are grateful that Will and Joan Larson entrusted us with the stewardship of their Endowment,” said David Mengebier, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “The total sum of their giving to the Community Foundation makes this our largest single endowment to date.”

An important focus area of the Larson Endowment is increasing access to post-secondary education. Through grants to local schools that have historically lower college access and attendance, the Endowment supports students in pursuing educational opportunities beyond high school. 

The latest round of grants totaling $300,000 was awarded to the following institutions:

  • 5Loaves2Fish Northern MI
  • Benzie Central Schools
  • Buckley Community Schools
  • Elk Rapids Senior High School
  • Forest Area Community Schools
  • Frankfort Elberta Area Schools
  • Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan
  • Kalkaska High School
  • Kingsley Area Schools
  • Leelanau Children’s Center
  • Leelanau Community Cultural Center
  • Leelanau Conservancy
  • Leland Public Schools
  • Mancelona Public Schools
  • Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse
  • Suttons Bay Public Schools
  • Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center

Since 2015, almost $800,000 has been awarded from the Larson Endowment to support scholarship grants to local schools and other initiatives across the region. In addition to regular grants to schools and nonprofits in the spring, the Community Foundation staff will be working with Nelson to provide transformational grants later in the year that are intended help organizations invest more substantially in programs and services that further their missions.

“Through the power of Endowment and the Larson’s generosity, this community benefit will continue to grow for many years to come,” said Steve Wade, Vice President of Community Impact at the Community Foundation.