Strengthened By Trust

In this video, Sakura celebrates the work of our grantees and explores the impact of Rotary Charities' investments in communities in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties. Click to watch!

Rotary Charities of Traverse City 2020-2021 Annual Report


Cover photo: TC Dance Project performing on the Moving Theater at an event hosted by Crosshatch Center 

Photo by Gary Howe

Our Mission

Working in partnership with changemakers, Rotary Charities provides funding, learning, and connections to address our region’s complex problems and create community assets for all.

Sakura Takano

Strengthened By Trust

Through the trusting relationships that we have built over time, community leaders and grantees have shared with us what they need to continue delivering their programming and achieving their missions. We built flexibility into our strategies, enabling us to adapt and respond to the changing needs of Northern Michigan communities.

You can continue to rely on Rotary Charities to be a trusted partner to help transform our region into one that is adaptive and thriving for everyone.

I am honored to lead our organization, partner with stakeholders and support the many changemakers working to help our region thrive.


Sakura Takano, Chief Executive Officer

Reflections From Here...

As I look over the past year with all its disruptions and lessons, I unearth the things we all share: that we are capable of learning, surviving, working toward the common good.
I am personally grateful for the dedicated, competent, and caring people I have come to know over the past 14 years through this work. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime, and my heart is full of hope for the future.

Becky Ewing, Executive Director,
retired June 2021

Read a letter from becky

Our Vision

We envision communities that are adaptive and thriving for everyone.


This year, Rotary Charities awarded 61 grants, totaling nearly $1.2 million dollars to non-profit organizations and local municipalities in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau counties. 


For every $1 granted, an additional $8.94 in funding was leveraged by grantees.

See our grants


From Recovery to Resilience



Globally, foundations are being challenged to think differently about how they operate, fund, and serve their communities. Rotary Charities of Traverse City heard this call early on in the pandemic.

We are invested in the work of our grantees and are committed to providing the funding, learning, and connections that changemakers need to be successful in meeting the needs of our region.

Story: meeting changing needs


We approach our work with humility, empathy, and curiosity,

inviting diverse perspectives and ideas.




We continued to help communities and their leaders as they adapt, shifting our focus from crisis support to recovery and resilience, and offering learning experiences that help organizations work better together.

We operate in trusting partnerships with openness

and a willingness to be changed.

Our Systems Change Accelerator grants support collaborative initiatives that target upstream causes of complex community problems. Since 2018, over $1.1 million has been invested in eight initiatives.

In FY 20-21, $325,000 was awarded to three Systems Change Accelerator grantees
addressing issues of affordable housing, youth homelessness, and organic
waste diversion.

Nearly every community in Northern Michigan is experiencing the effects of housing shortages and rising housing costs. 

Housing North was awarded a $150,000 Systems Change Accelerator
grant to continue momentum to address housing challenges by coordinating and facilitating communication, advocacy, and housing development capacity in our region.

Their work will drive durable change by creating new funding sources for housing, leveraging existing tools, and building more support for housing solutions that will enable partners to meet the region's diverse housing needs. 

STORY: Housing Solutions not one size fits all 

We believe our communities are made stronger through generous connections where people put service above self. We operate with inclusivity, equity, and fairness to unlock new potential for positive change.

Our Assets for Thriving Communities grants support initiatives that develop, strengthen, or build community assets that are available to all. 

Since the inception of this grant category in 2018, over $1.6 million has been invested in 37 projects. In FY 20-21, $534,750 was awarded to 13 grantees working to create community assets that support arts & culture, health & wellbeing, education, and affordable housing in Northern Michigan.

A Changemaker + Funder Partnership to Shift a System

A group of Northern Michigan nonprofits and a  coalition of food pantries are working collaboratively to tackle the issue of food insecurity by going upstream to address its root causes.


Through intentional partnerships, support from  Rotary  Charities staff and contracted facilitators, and a $100,000 Assets for Thriving Communities grant, Food Rescue and the members of the Northwest Food Coalition (NFC) enhanced their ability to be adaptive and respond to crisis, ultimately increasing the amount of fresh, nutritious food available to those who need it most in Northern Michigan.



We care most about lasting impact that reflects commitment,

courage, creativity, and collaboration.

Seed grants are small investments that often lead to outsized impact.

Common activities funded through Seed grants include convening partners, engaging stakeholders, determining the best ways to move forward, with complex projects, creating strong partnership agreements, and piloting projects. 

In many cases, these activities provide clarity and a sense of direction for transformational projects and often lead to funding through our Assets for Thriving Communities and Systems Change Accelerator grant categories.

We courageously leverage all forms of our capital

— financial, knowledge, connections, and our reputation —

to contribute to the greatest possible impact for all. 


For every $1 granted by Rotary Charities, our grantees leveraged an additional $8.94 in funding.


see our Grants

This year marked a pivotal moment for Rotary Charities.

In recent years, Rotary Charities has been a supporting organization that uses a systems approach to tackle complex community problems. And in the year 2020-21, we found ourselves undergoing a change of systems of our own as we engaged in strategic planning and searched for a CEO to succeed Becky Ewing. 

The board’s strategic planning process helped to hone our leadership skills, confirm our commitment to an ever-improving culture, and allowed us the opportunity to envision the next few years at Rotary Charities. 

The search for a new CEO proved to be an affirming experience. Having received 50 applications, one candidate exemplified the leadership and vision our board was searching for; Sakura Takano, Rotary Charities’ Director of Community Assets and Impact Investing. 

Becky's legacy is marked by her stewardship as we transitioned from a charity to a changemaking organization, and her imprint on Northern Michigan communities is lasting. Through it all,  it is a  sincere honor to be part of this organization as it continues to have a positive impact on our communities today, tomorrow, and forever.


Jeff Hickman, Chairperson, Board of Trustees

FY 20-21 Staff
Tori Craig
Strategic Communications & Equity Manager
Freya Bradford
Director of Systems Change & Learning


Becky Ewing
Executive Director


Stacey Foster
Office Manager


Colleen Masterson-Bzdok
Director of Capacity Building & Operations


Miriam Owsley
Strategic Communications Manager


Sakura Takano
Director of Community Assets & Impact Investing
Current Staff
Freya Bradford
Director of Systems Change & Learning
Stacey Foster
Office Manager
Kendra Luta
Programs Associate
Miriam Owsley
Strategic Communications Manager
Sakura Takano
Chief Executive Officer
FY 20-21 Board of Trustees
Allison Beers*
Lorraine Beers*
Marlene Bevan*
Jen Casey
Mark Eckhoff
John Hall*
Jeff Hickman, Board Chairperson*
Wendy Irvin, Rotary Club Presidential Designee
Randy Kamps, Rotary Club Presidential Designee
Greg Luyt*
Benjamin Marentette*
Homer Nye*
Dan Rickard, Rotary Camps & Services Board Liaison*
Trevor Tkach*
*Current Board of Trustees Member



Net assets, beginning of year $44,966,842 $47,798,091
Consulting fees $44,551 $28,386
Investment return, net of investment fees $11,744,896 ($402)
Oil and gas royalty income $126,962 $111,034
Grants and other $55,740 $8,634
TOTAL REVENUE AND GAINS $11,972,149 $147,652
Program services $2,653,100 $2,857,964
Management and general $127,978 $120,937
Change in net assets without donor restrictions $9,191,071 ($2,822,958)
Change in net assets with donor restrictions - ($8,291)
TOTAL CHANGE IN NET ASSETS $9,191,071 ($2,831,249)
Net assets without donor restrictions end of year $54,157,913 $44,966,842
Net assets with donor restrictions end of year - -
TOTAL NET ASSETS END OF YEAR $54,157,913 $44,966,842