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Community Foundation, Rotary Charities Partner to Support Local Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts

[Photo credit: Peace Ranch // Image description: An individual in a winter coat, sweat pants, and a mask is facing away and petting a black horse next to her.]

The Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and Rotary Charities of Traverse City are partnering to support local diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts by providing a matching gift opportunity for the Foundation’s DEI Fund. Through May 25, donations to the Community Foundation’s DEI Fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar, thanks to a recent $35,000 gift from the Foundation’s Rotary Endowment, which is directed by Rotary Charities.

The Community Foundation’s DEI Fund primarily provides support for organizations led by Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQ+, immigrant, neurodiverse, and/or disability community members in addition to other programs, trainings, initiatives, and opportunities promoting equity and inclusion across Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau Counties.

Since the summer of 2021, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $30,000 in grants to 21 different organizations across the five-county region through its DEI Fund. This funding resource is one of the ways the Foundation is integrating equity throughout its work. Rotary Charities has similarly made an explicit organizational commitment to embed equity into its culture, operations, and strategy. In addition to participating in the development of the Sonder DEIB Network, Charities’ staff also work to curate and promote DEI resources and learning opportunities.

"We are committed to supporting organizations and grassroots initiatives that focus on creating inclusive spaces and building community assets that are accessible to everyone," said Sakura Takano, CEO of Rotary Charities. “This contribution from the Rotary Endowment to the DEI Fund is that commitment in action.”

During the Community Foundation’s most recent DEI Fund grantmaking cycle in April, six organizations received support, ranging from $500 to $2,500, including:

  • Crystal Community Ski Club to help host 15-25 students (many of whom are first-generation immigrants) from Hamtramck High School on a recent destination ski trip to Crystal Mountain.
  • Leelanau Montessori Public School Academy to support staff and stakeholder participation in an intensive educator-focused seminar designed to deepen understanding of and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
  • Michigan Indian Legal Services, Inc. to support their Expungement Project, which aims to help Tribal members and Indigenous community members have a second chance at finding employment and housing after time served.
  • Northern Michigan E3 (through the Utopia Foundation) to support events happening in May at the Traverse Area District Library in recognition of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month.
  • Peace Ranch to support 100 hours of direct trauma-informed therapy services for local youth in crisis.
  • SEEDS Ecology and Education Centers to support travel expenses for SEEDS EcoCorps crew members so that they can attend a three-day collaborative learning program with Detroit-based nonprofit partner, EcoWorks.

“It’s become very clear to us that the DEI Fund is a much-needed resource in our region given the breadth and variety of applications we’ve received since launching it last summer,” said David Mengebier, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “This interest shows that we need to support organizations led by Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQ+, immigrant, neurodiverse, and disability community members in addition to uplifting equity and inclusion programs and initiatives.”

To have a gift to the Community Foundation’s DEI Fund doubled through May 25, visit the Foundation’s website to donate online: www.gtrcf.org/supportdei. To learn more about or apply for a grant from the DEI Fund, visit: www.gtrcf.org/grants. The DEI Fund’s next grant application deadline is June 1.