Meeting Essential Needs in our Community

At first glance, Emmet County is a vision of success. Picturesque views of Little Traverse Bay are dotted with lakefront homes and happy vacationers fill our streets. But appearances can be deceiving, as many residents here struggle to meet their basic needs.

Nearly 40 percent* of Emmet County residents either live in poverty or are a paycheck away from experiencing hardship. Families are too often forced to choose between paying rent or their utility bill; buying gas to get to work or food to feed their family. In addition, our aging population means many older adults are on fixed incomes without room for extra expenses. An unexpected medical bill or car trouble that would be an inconvenience to some can create a crisis situation for many of our neighbors.

History of the Essential Needs Fund

In 2013, the Community Foundation began awarding grants to five human service organizations so they could establish and maintain “essential need” dollars for times when their clients need important and quick assistance. On average, 40 families receive assistance through these funds annually, with the typical amount of support being approximately $150. These are critical dollars and serve as a lifeline for clients.

In 2016, the Community Foundation board voted to establish a permanent fund – the Essential Needs Fund – to continue this important funding in a sustainable way. Thanks to leadership from our board of directors, the fund is well on its way to making a meaningful impact for families and individuals in Emmet County.

To ensure there is a permanent source of charitable funds to support our community when they need it most, the Community Foundation seeks to raise $250,000 for the Essential Needs Fund.  Click here to donate online.

* According to the 2017 United Way ALICE Project Report,