We are excited to announce the recent award of $406,600 to ten Northern Michigan initiatives through our Emerging Needs Fund. This fund enables Rotary Charities to provide proactive support to initiatives addressing areas of significant community need.
The recent awards include support for organizations working to break ground on much-needed affordable housing solutions, develop youth mental health programming and improve access to critical mental healthcare services, expand after-school programming, and deepen acknowledgment of Indigenous culture in our region.
Several projects align with needs identified by respondents to the Grand Traverse County American Rescue Plan Advisory Committee‘s survey.
The Grand Traverse Regional Project Dashboard, recently launched by Community Development Coalition partners, also proved to be a vital resource for identifying potential projects.
These resources allowed our staff to have open conversations with organizations about vital projects that will improve the quality of life in Northern Michigan for people of all walks of life, but certainly our most vulnerable populations: people experiencing homelessness, low-income residents, families, and people of all ages experiencing mental health crises. These grants will allow several projects, which would have fallen outside of our typical funding cycles and otherwise may have stalled due to critical funding shortfalls, to come to fruition.
These ten grants combined with Rotary Charities’ grantmaking throughout the year come to a total of 82 grants and over $1.35 million invested in the development of community assets, systems change initiatives targeting the root causes of complex community problems, and transformational learning opportunities.
Leelanau Investing for Teens (LIFT) is an afterschool mentorship program committed to empowering youth to discover and embrace their strengths. In response to community input and growing need, LIFT is building partnerships with Leelanau County schools to establish middle school afterschool programming at Suttons Bay Public Schools for the 2022-23 school year. Rotary Charities grant funding will support the hiring of a Middle School Program Leader.
Through a collaborative partnership with Goodwill Northern Michigan, Traverse City Police Department (TCPD) seeks to advance positive outcomes for people experiencing homelessness and the community, with a focus on the North Boardman area of downtown Traverse City. Rotary Charities grant funding will provide support for a Community Police Officer to work with a TCPD Police Social Worker and Goodwill's Outreach Workers and the NW MI Coalition to End Homelessness to provide effective resources to individuals experiencing homelessness and/or health emergencies, including mental health crises.
In collaboration with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) FishPass Outreach and Education Team, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB) seeks to deepen tribal cultural awareness and perspective in local community culture. Rotary Charities grant funding will provide support to the GTB Natural Resources and Culture and Language Departments in their efforts to gather, review, and apply Traditional Ecological Knowledge in local community planning efforts around rivers and watersheds including the Lower Boardman-Ottaway River.
Through a collaborative partnership, New Waves United Church of Christ (NWUCC) and Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region (HFHGTR) seek to address the regional shortage of workforce and affordable housing by building 14 homes on a church-owned parcel at the intersection of M-72 and Bugai Road in Leelanau County. Six of the homes will be part of HFHGTR’s home ownership program, one will be church staff housing, and the remaining seven units will be owned and managed by NWUCC as part of a low-cost rental program. Rotary Charities grant funding will support initial pre-development costs of the site, including infrastructure like roads, wells, and electricity.
HomeStretch, in partnership with Leelanau Christian Neighbors, is seeking to alleviate the affordable housing crisis in Leelanau County by developing eight affordable residential apartment units in Suttons Bay on a parcel of land donated by the Leelanau County Land Bank Authority. Conditions of the rezoning of the property require a 20-year deed restriction requiring that the units will be occupied by persons with an annual income not to exceed 80% of area median income. Rotary Charities grant funding will provide support to close the funding gap needed to begin construction of the project.
Kalkaska County Library seeks to increase the number of Kalkaska Middle and High School students and faculty who utilize the school libraries and improve the district’s literacy rate by updating the school library books and resources and replacing worn and outdated titles. Rotary Charities grant funding will provide support to purchase approximately 400 new books for each school.
The Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region (NMCHIR) launched the Behavioral Health Initiative (BHI) in 2021 in response to the spiraling behavioral health crisis and critical lack of resources in Northern Michigan. Through input gathered from hundreds of stakeholders from across the region and action at a BHI Summit, 12 BHI Action Teams of cross-sector leaders, staff, and local youth were formed and have been working towards goals that promote wellbeing and resiliency and seek to improve access to mental health services. Rotary Charities grant funding will support the implementation of the Action Teams’ collaboratively-developed projects.
In response to an identified lack of adequate mental health crisis services, a highly collaborative Behavioral Health Initiative (BHI) Action Team of Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region (NMCHIR) is working to create a Crisis-Wellness Center in Traverse City, which would offer support and connections to services for people of any age regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. The Clinic will strive to alleviate and stabilize those experiencing a mental health crisis and reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency department, inpatient psychiatric units, or jail. Rotary Charities grant funding will provide support for a Project Director to move from planning to implementation.
Through a youth-led effort to raise awareness of mental wellbeing and reduce the stigma of mental health among students, Traverse City Area Public Schools is bringing University of Michigan’s Peer to Peer program to Traverse City Central High School and West Senior High School. The program, will train students to watch for signs like social isolation or feelings of hopelessness, and learn to monitor their own emotions and take care of themselves, seeking support from adults when they need it. The program will also create dedicated sanctuary spaces in both buildings where students can recharge and receive needed support. Rotary Charities funding will provide support to pilot the project during the 2022-23 school year.
Northern Blooms Montessori Family Center, a community-centric early childhood program, will offer childcare spots for up to 20 children aged 12-36 months. With its facility located in the Commongrounds Co-op development on Eighth Street, Northern Blooms will offer residents and employees of downtown Traverse City a convenient option for quality, affordable childcare with the cost of services based on a unique equity-focused financial structure. Rotary Charities grant funding will provide support for the build-out of two classrooms and furnishings.