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Our Milestones

1920

Rotary Club of Traverse City is formed. 

1923

Camp Greilick property is purchased. 

1955

Rotary Camps & Services is formed to steward land purchases.

A trust is established with the regional Boy Scout Council for Camp Greilick. 

1976

Oil is struck at Camp Greilick. Rotary Charities is formed the following year to distribute oil and gas revenue to community causes. An exceptional 40% royalty fee is collected, as negotiated in the oil and gas lease by Rotarian Al Arnold. 

1982

Rotary Charities gives its first grants.

1989

Park Place Hotel is purchased out of bankruptcy court and is operated by Rotary Charities until 1996. 

1991

The Matching Gift Program is established to encourage Rotarians to support local organizations by matching their donations with Rotary Charities funds. 

1992

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation (GTRCF) are incubated.

1995

4 regional trail organizations are convened to form TART Trails. 

1996

The Edwards Boardman River Conservation Endowment is created at GTRCF with the proceeds from property sales. 

1997

A $2.5 million gift establishes the Rotary Endowment (fka Matching Gift Program) at GTRCF. The endowment is expanded to include every Rotary in the five counties. 

 $1 million is granted to State Theater Group to create a downtown performing arts center. 

 

2001

Rotary Charities commits to existing in perpetuity. 

The Howard and Mary Dunn Edwards Preserve is created at Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. 

2004

$1 million is granted to Northwestern Michigan College to construct Great Lakes Water Studies Institute. 

2007

NorthSky Nonprofit Network was created with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to strengthen the capacity of nonprofit organizations with courses and consultant support. 

2008

Rotary Charities leads community input efforts into the Grand Vision, an ambitious, collaborative 8+ year effort to identify and implement priorities across the region. 

Funds are raised for the Boardman River Dam Removal and Restoration Project. 

2010

Rotary Charities leads a collaborative of regional funders to renovate Clinch Park and Traverse City’s West Bay waterfront.

2013

After the dissolution of the State Theater group in 2006, Rotary Charities signs the deed for the State Theater over to Traverse City Film Festival, who is made the official owner and operator. 

2014

$250,000 is granted to Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign. 

2016

A $1 million grant from Rotary Charities is used to purchase a former coal dock across the street from a parcel of land donated from Mike and Rhea Dow in 2006, to complete the Discovery Center on Grand Traverse Bay. 

2017

The first Impact Investments are made. 

2018

Rotary Charities shifts its grantmaking program away from funding individual organizations to meet their missions toward supporting collaborative solutions for complex problems and building up communities. 

Rotary Charities receives its first bequest gift: $1 million from the estate of Charles Fultz. 

Rotary Charities pilots partnership with Northwestern Michigan College to offer some of NorthSky’s technical capacity building programs. 

The Leadership Learning Lab, a professional development program for nonprofits across 10 counties in lower Northern Michigan, is launched in partnership with 10 community foundations and the Frey Foundation. 

Discovery Center Great Lakes becomes a separate 501(c)3 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Rotary Camps & Services. Discovery Pier opens to the public. 

Camp Greilick becomes Greilick Outdoor Recreation and Education Center (GO-REC) and opens to the public for the first time, following the long tenure of the Boy Scouts. 

 


Diving Deeper Into Our History

Traverse City Rotary Charities

When oil was struck on property owned by Rotary Camps & Services in 1976, Rotarians focused on the community and the future. After careful thought and deliberation, they established a corporate structure that would ensure the assets would be protected, the community would be served and our club would remain an active service organization. That insightful decision led to the establishment of Rotary Charities, a 501(c) (3) non-profit public foundation. Royalty payments came into the Rotary Charities portfolio. The land where the wells were located and the associated liability remained the property of Rotary Camps & Services. Rotary Charities was charged with the fiduciary and philanthropic duties and Rotary Camps & Services was responsible for real estate and stewardship of the land. Our history is captured in this article from the Record Eagle.


Service Above Self

At the same time, thoughtful Rotarians wanted to ensure the new source of money wouldn't impact the club’s primary mission of raising funds for community and international projects, so they established a separate entity called Rotary Charities of Traverse City. The articles and bylaws of Rotary Charities were established to ensure linkages between the Club and Charities, but not a direct connection between the assets of Rotary Charities and the Club. The Club membership elects the Rotary Charities Board members from within its own membership ranks, thus ensuring accountability to the Club, but also allowing primary service to the community. Read about some of our accomplishments over the years in this timeline.


Commemorating 25 years

In 2003, Rotary Charities looked back at 25 year of bringing positive impacts to our five-county region. While the grants and activities described here are older, their legacies live for preserving and improving the quality of life in our region.


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    Park Place

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