Spring 2020 Grants Awarded

Middle- and high-school students will receive the nourishing food they need. Our recycling center will improve its recycling efficiency by upgrading its container sorting line. Young children in a local town will have a safe, public place to play. Nursing home residents will benefit from needed room improvements.

These are just a few examples of people whose lives will be improved through recent grants from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation. In April, the Community Foundation awarded a total of $229,650 in grants to 30 organizations serving Emmet County. Programs will support people in need with food, housing, educational opportunities, financial support, addiction treatment, suicide prevention, and more.

When organizations applied for grant support in early March, the world looked much different than it did just a few short weeks later when the Community Foundation’s grant distribution committee reviewed grant requests during the pandemic.

“While COVID-19 didn’t change our mission to grant dollars to the community,” said Jim Ford, committee chair, “it definitely changed how we viewed the requests. We had to prioritize the emerging and rapidly changing needs brought on by the pandemic.” The majority of grants awarded focused on the health and human service sector with additional awards in support of educational access, outdoor recreation and housing.

Also reviewing grant requests were the 26 members of the Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), teens from around Emmet County. Although the YAC was not able to review grants in person for the first time in its 25-year history, Jeep Damoose, a YAC member and senior at Harbor Springs High School, said the situation “led to a far more enriched and thoughtful discussion.”

As part of the overall total, the YAC recommended grants totaling $55,871 to eight organizations. The largest youth-recommended grant went in support of the Northmen Den (Petoskey), Harbor Hut (Harbor Springs) and Lakeview Locker youth food pantries, a project of Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

In addition to the grant awards, the committees each allocated dollars from their respective grant pools specifically to the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 relief efforts. The distribution committee directed $100,000 to the Essential Needs Fund with the YAC allocating an additional $25,000. During the crisis, the Essential Needs Fund is providing relief funding for eligible nonprofits that have been impacted by increased demand for services or financial hardship due to decreased revenue. A short application is available here.

“The impacts of this crisis will continue to affect our local nonprofit sector and our greater community for some time,” said David (DJ) Jones, executive director. “The Community Foundation is here for the duration and will continue to provide support to our community partners for both relief and eventual recovery.”


Great Lakes Center for the Arts
Bring a nationally touring children’s musical to students
Amount granted: $6,500
For young people, access to the arts is important, yet due to tightening curriculum standards, some schools have limited access to performing arts. According to Americans for the Arts, students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs, standardized test scores, and college-going rates as well as lower dropout rates. The Great Lakes Center for the Arts, through its Next Gen programming, seeks to bring the nationally touring children’s musical, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,” to K-2 audiences throughout Emmet County. The script was written by Mo Willems, creator of the #1 New York Times best-selling Caldecott Honor award-winning “Pigeon” picture books, along with longtime collaborator and Disney Jr.’s “Muppet Babies” executive producer Mr. Warburton, with music by Deborah Wicks La Puma. A grant to this project will bring the production to our area as well as offset the cost of bus transportation for participating schools.

Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra
Celebrate 20 years of community orchestra performances
Amount granted: $1,000
The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra (GLCO) entertains, educates and inspires Northern Michigan through its live orchestral performances. Established in 2001, GLCO is celebrating its 20th anniversary during its 2020-2021 concert season. To mark this occasion, GLCO would like to create a special 20th anniversary brochure and other marketing materials that will highlight the organization’s impact during this time and also attract more people to its offerings. A grant to this project will help cover brochure design and printing costs.

Harbor Springs Area Historical Society
Connect to local history using STEAM-based learning
Amount granted: $500
The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society seeks to create a mobile STEAM Lab (science, technology, engineering, art and math) to be used for programming at both the Shay Hexagon House and the Harbor Springs History Museum. Ephraim Shay, for whom the Shay Hexagon House was named, was an inventor, a mechanic, an engineer and a life-long learner. His legacy inspired the Historical Society to explore how it could bring to life the inventive spirit of Ephraim Shay for area students. A grant to this project will allow the Historical Society to purchase materials to incorporate guided STEAM projects into its student field trips and community events such as Shay Days and Blessing of the Fleet.

Harbor Springs Festival of the Book
Provide books to students to support home literacy
Amount granted: $6,000
The Harbor Springs Festival of the Book is a three-day festival with more than 50 traditionally published authors and illustrators throughout Harbor Springs. The Festival is committed to meeting children in their classrooms where the highest number of students have the opportunity to engage in creative conversations with the authors and illustrators. Research on literacy shows that the number of books in a home is predictive of a child’s success, not only in reading, but his or her level of education in general. A grant to this project will allow the Festival to purchase books to be placed in classrooms, school libraries and directly in the hands of children, inspiring more kids to develop a love for books, authors and reading! In 2019, the Festival was able to purchase 1,303 books and aims to purchase more than 1,700 in 2020.

Little Traverse Civic Theatre
Build safe storage for community theater play props
Amount granted: $1,500
Little Traverse Civic Theatre (LTCT) has been providing high-quality theatrical entertainment to Emmet County residents and visitors for nearly 75 years. The all-volunteer organization performs four plays a year–each of which has its own sets, costumes and props. As you can imagine, LTCT has amassed many belongings over the years. The organization owns a storage barn that houses everything. The barn currently does not allow LTCT volunteers to pre-build set pieces, nor are there any safety rails on the second story loft. LTCT wants to remodel and reorganize the storage barn to make it safer, space-efficient, and more accessible. A grant to this project will help LTCT construct additional platforms to increase storage space, as well as build separate, heated rooms to store temperature-sensitive props and create an area where volunteers can build.

Michigan Arts Access
Offer music programming to special education students in Petoskey
Amount granted: $11,173
Michigan Arts Access (MAA) promotes creative power in people with disabilities. It envisions an inclusive society where people with disabilities participate in, learn through, excel in and enjoy the arts. Some of MAA’s work focuses specifically on students. General education students are provided a traditional arts education, but special education students are often left out because they are receiving other services during art activities, or because people believe that students with special needs will not be able to handle the content–which is not necessarily true! A grant to this project will allow MAA to provide music programs to special education students at Petoskey High School, Petoskey Middle School, Ottawa Elementary and the Petoskey-based Taylor School for Exceptional Learners.


Village of Alanson
Develop an age-appropriate play space in Civic Park for young children
Amount granted: $11,000
The Village of Alanson aims to install a new play structure in Civic Park that is appropriate for children under the age of five. Due to increased traffic thanks to the Village’s renewed focus on public spaces and programming for its residents, the current play structure in Civic Park is not equipped to safely accommodate the range of age groups using the park during peak usage. It is not uncommon to find young toddlers trying to play alongside elementary age children. The Village also has the opportunity to partner with Great Start Collaborative to amplify its efforts around the national Talking is Teaching program. This initiative aims to improve early literacy by encouraging families to talk, sing and read to their young children through messaging in public spaces. Signage throughout the playground will help spark meaningful conversations and foster language-rich activities on the playground and will be the area’s first Talking is Teaching play structure. A grant to this project will help the Village of Alanson purchase new playground equipment for its youngest residents and visitors.


Harbor Springs Library
Replace boiler to help preserve historic library
Amount granted: $8,695
The Harbor Springs Library provides free library resources to the community while maintaining a historic building in downtown Harbor Springs. The Library has launched a capital campaign to restore the 112-year-old brick building beginning with replacing the roof, then repairing exterior brickwork, replacing windows, and renovating the entryway to be more accessible. In addition to the exterior renovations, improvements are needed to mechanicals. The current gas boiler is antiquated and requires costly repairs each year due to parts being discontinued. A grant to this project will help the Harbor Springs Library replace its outdated boiler and provide efficient and safe heating for patrons.

Harbor Springs Public Schools
Provide hands-on learning through robotics
Amount granted: $6,598
The Harbor Springs Robotics program aims to promote STEM-related fields and activities for all school-aged youth. It combines the teamwork and competitiveness of sports teams with education, business and communication skills, and leadership. Having two seasons under its belt has given the club insight into what is needed to compete at a higher level and provide more students the opportunity to participate. Due to lack of resources currently, hands-on time with the robots is limited for participants. A grant to this project would allow the Robotics team to purchase additional laptops for programming and Computer-Aided Design (CAD); purchase additional components to have a second functional robot at the middle and high school level; and purchase an enclosed trailer to transport the heavy equipment to and from competitions.

Harbor Springs Public Schools
Teach elementary school students how to fish
Amount granted: $1,500
Harbor Springs Public Schools creates a multi-faceted educational experience, in a family atmosphere, empowering each student to become resilient, productive, and well-educated members of society. One of the experiences offered at Shay Elementary is the Outdoor Adventure Club. The club would like to expand its programming into summertime, by offering students a one-week fishing clinic with excursions. The clinic will include instruction in basic knot tying, lure selection, fish identification, principals of local conservation efforts, and casting and water safety. A grant to this project will help cover supplies for the fishing clinic.

Petoskey Children’s Nature Preschool
Expand the school day to meet community needs for preschool care
Amount granted: $3,800
Petoskey Children’s Nature Preschool (PCN) offers a nature-centered early childhood experience for preschool-age children. In the past year, three early childhood programs have closed in Petoskey. To meet the expanding need in our community, PCN would like to expand its day to offer an afternoon program, allowing it to serve families that need all day, every day care. As a half-day program there are many items required by state licensing that they have not previously needed. A grant to this program would allow PCN to purchase appropriate nap mats to rest on, lunch items to serve a congregate meal, and drying racks for outdoor gear to dry between morning and afternoon outdoor learning.

Petoskey Public Schools
Encourage and empower students to be kinder to each other
Amount granted: $2,000
The Cheetos Club at Petoskey High School has a simple mission: plan to be kind. The club was inspired by the kindness of Spencer Tibbits. Spencer was a student at Petoskey High School who quietly looked for ways to empathize and show kindness to students going through rough times. Tragically, Spencer was killed in a car accident on his 17th birthday, but his vision for a kinder community lives on. Students in the Cheetos Club gather weekly to plan kindness activities, like decorating lockers, wishing fellow students happy birthday, or writing a personalized note to someone in need of cheer. Recently the Club had the idea to create ‘Kindness Kits’ for Petoskey High School classrooms. The kits will have small tokens in them that could be given to students who are struggling–such as friendship bracelets, or rocks with powerful words painted on them, motivational quote cards, etc. A grant to this project will cover supplies for the Kindness Kits.


Conservation Resource Alliance
Replace the Munger Road culvert crossing with a timber bridge
Amount granted: $5,500
Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) works to enhance local economies through sensible natural resource management. Serving a 15-country region across northwest lower Michigan, CRA’s biologists, engineers, and business experts address complex resource issues from water quality and fisheries to rural business development and wildlife management. CRA is currently working to replace the culvert crossing of the Carp Lake River on Munger Road with a timber bridge. Doing so will help restore the river’s ecological functions. It will improve the transport of sediments and woody debris, increase the water quality of the river, allow for greater movement of fish and other species, and restore the connectivity and natural flow of the river. A grant to this project will help cover bridge planning and construction costs.

Emmet County Recycling
Improve recycling efficiency with upgrades to the container sort line
Amount granted: $15,000
Emmet County Recycling is considered a leader in diverting products from the waste stream to be recovered for reuse or recycling. The Emmet County Material Recovery Facility began operating in 2009 using refurbished equipment. The time has come to replace worn equipment and adjust for the changing nature of the recycling stream. New technologies offer greater opportunities to improve efficiency and quality of recyclables produced. Emmet County Recycling received an infrastructure grant from the State of Michigan and secured a zero interest loan to make upgrades to its container sort line. Emmet County Recycling originally budgeted $1.8 million for the project; unfortunately, increasing costs and a delay in the project are now going to cost $2.4 million, resulting in an additional $600,000 shortfall from what has already been raised. A grant to this project will go toward funding the shortfall to ensure this important capital improvement project can be completed.

Little Traverse Bay Humane Society
Make emergency veterinary care affordable for low-income families and their pets
Amount granted: $1,000
Little Traverse Bay Humane Society provides a temporary home to companion animals. As a ‘no-kill’ facility, it features a warm shelter, veterinary services and personal attention for all the animals in its care. The Humane Society aspires to offer its services to all people and their pets, regardless of income. Yet all too often, pet owners are forced to choose between addressing a pet’s emergency health issue or tending to basic household necessities. The Humane Society’s Furry FACES (Feline and Canine Emergency Services) program seeks to address that. It helps offset the cost of emergency/unexpected veterinary care for pet owners who otherwise would not be able to afford it. A grant to this project will support Furry FACES.

Little Traverse Conservancy
Maintain Emmet County nature preserves and working forest reserves
Amount granted: $6,728
Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC) protects the natural diversity and beauty of northern Michigan by preserving significant land and scenic areas, and fostering appreciation and understanding of the environment. While LTC continues to acquire new land and create new recreational opportunities, LTC recognizes the importance of making strategic accessibility and ecological enhancements and improvements to existing aging preserves. A grant to this project would allow LTC to purchase supplies and equipment to accomplish its 2020 stewardship goals on popular Emmet County preserves, including parking area maintenance, trail improvement, habitat management, ecological restoration and signage updates.

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
Help property owners and communities adapt to rising inland water levels
Amount granted: $7,500
Although the Great Lakes shorelines are grabbing attention as shorelines erode and houses fall into the water, inland flooding is of similar concern. High groundwater tables mean inland lakes and their residents, particularly kettle lakes with no outlet, are susceptible to environmental contamination and public health risks. Inland flooding could result in flooded and failed septic systems and drain fields, contaminated drinking water wells, and releases of chemicals or fuels from flooded basements or garages into our waters. To respond to this urgent issue of high waters, the Watershed Council, in partnership with local, state and federal partners, will host a series of educational events to provide information to shoreline residents on how to appropriately deal with high water levels. A grant to this project will allow Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council to conduct a webinar, two workshops, create a factsheet to distribute to residents, offer presentations for lake associations, and promote ordinances with local municipalities to incorporate climate resiliency provisions to adapt to changing water levels.


Bay Bluffs Emmet County Medical Care Facility
Refresh rooms for nursing home residents
Amount granted: $11,000
Bay Bluffs-Emmet County Medical Care Facility provides exceptional care with compassion and dignity, from short-term rehabilitation to long-term resident care. Bay Bluffs is currently remodeling its short-term rehabilitation ‘neighborhood,’ known as Birch Boulevard. Staff feel the 15 rooms on Birch Boulevard do not meet the standard that our community expects. Renovating them will better allow Bay Bluffs to meet the current medical, psychosocial and emotional needs of individuals receiving rehabilitative care. New rooms will become private and include enough space for medical equipment and home-like furnishings. The rooms will also be repainted, with new trim and wall hangings to create a more-modern, cottage-like feel. A grant to this project will help Bay Bluffs renovate two of the Birch Boulevard rooms.

Harbor Hall
Provide quality, affordable treatment for drug, alcohol and gambling additions
Amount granted: $12,000
Harbor Hall provides treatment for substance abuse, gambling and accompanying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Treatment is conducted in both residential and outpatient settings. Harbor Hall would like to incorporate new therapy techniques in its treatment, including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). A grant to this project will help cover staff training costs to learn EMDR; provide financial assistance to patients who cannot afford insurance co-pays for their treatment costs; and lastly, assist Harbor Hall in launching its new women’s treatment facility.

Kiersten’s Ride
Organize a regional suicide prevention conference
Amount granted: $15,000
Since 2014, Kiersten’s Ride has brought help, hope and healing through suicide prevention programs in lower Northern Michigan. This fall the organization will host a regional suicide prevention conference at Boyne Mountain Conference Center. This conference will bring together mental health practitioners, educators, law enforcement, primary care providers and others who want to develop skills to intervene when someone is at risk for suicide. It is the second leading cause of death for Michiganders aged 10-34. A grant to this project will help cover conference organizing costs.

McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation
Provide patients experiencing cancer treatment with assistance for unmet needs
Amount granted: $5,000
The Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Northern Michigan serves more than 1,100 radiation and medical oncology patients annually. Often, patients who have received a diagnosis of cancer face financial hardships that are not reimbursable by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Expense such as travel, lodging, nutritional supplements and medical supplies can be barriers to receiving the care they need. The Oncology Patient Assistance Programs assists with these costs for over 100 residents in Emmet County annually. A grant to this project will ensure McLaren Northern Michigan is able to meet the needs of patients as they arise and remove barriers to receiving treatment.

Planned Parenthood of Michigan
Promote sexual and reproductive health in Emmet County
Amount granted: $8,000
Planned Parenthood of Michigan believes that access to sexual and reproductive health care is a human right. The organization works to ensure people are able to take care of their sexual health across their entire lifespan. It strives to reduce the stigma around sexually transmitted infections (STIs), encourages regular testing for STIs and promotes contraception to avoid STIs and unintended pregnancies. A grant to this project will help Planned Parenthood promote its services in Emmet County, educate people on sexual and reproductive health, and distribute feminine hygiene kits.


Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Provide nourishing food to middle and high school students in need
Amount granted: $15,000
Food insecurity has a negative impact on students’ ability to learn and achieve at school. And data suggest that the need is growing in Emmet County. In 2017-18, 660 Petoskey and Harbor Springs middle and high school students were eligible to receive free and reduced lunch. In 2018-19, that number climbed to 731 students. Emmanuel Episcopal Church started the middle and high school youth pantries as a way to nourish our area’s youth in need by providing a place for them to shop for free weekend food, school day snacks, school supplies, toiletries and clothing. What started as one pantry in Petoskey Middle School has expanded to four youth pantries: Northmen Den at Petoskey’s Middle and High Schools, Harbor Hut at Harbor Springs Middle School, and Lakeview Locker for Emmet County’s court-appointed high school. A grant to this project will allow Emmanuel Episcopal Church to purchase food and supplies for students to take home over the weekend when school lunch and services are not available.

Friendship Centers of Emmet County
Equip low-income seniors with emergency response devices
Amount granted: $3,391
Friendship Centers of Emmet County (FCEC) works to ensure that all senior citizens have the opportunities, information and services necessary to live healthy, safe and active lives in dignity. One of the services FCEC provides is loaning emergency response devices to seniors who couldn’t otherwise afford one of these devices on their own. The device is commonly worn like a necklace, with a small button that seniors can push to immediately talk with a 911 emergency operator. A grant to this project will help FCEC purchase and loan 25 of these devices to area seniors.

Great Start Collaborative
Enable quality preschool experiences for all children
Amount granted: $8,500
Great Start Collaborative is a partnership of more than 30 organizations working to strengthen families and improve outcomes for children in Charlevoix, Emmet and northern Antrim Counties. They envision a time when every child is nurtured and supported in a way that allows them to achieve their maximum potential. Many families in our region are forced to choose between providing their child with a much-needed preschool experience or meeting their basic needs of living. There are two government programs that offer free preschool for children based on financial need, but they reach capacity quickly and leave approximately 65+ local children wait-listed. A grant to this project will provide scholarships for wait-listed children to attend high quality, tuition-based preschools in our area.

Manna Food Project
Offer nutritious food in area food pantries
Amount granted: $7,500
Manna Food Project helps feed the hungry in Northern Michigan. It operates a food rescue program, food distribution center (i.e. food bank), weekly food pantry and its ‘Food 4 Kids’ backpack program. Manna partners with 23 food pantries, 18 community meal sites and 16 human service agencies to provide supplemental and emergency food to over 42,000 families each year in Antrim, Charlevoix and Emmet Counties. In feeding the hungry, Manna has made it a priority to continually improve the quality and nutritional value of the food it provides. By moving away from foods high in sodium, fat and sugar, Manna gives the most vulnerable in our community a healthy start. A grant to this project will help Manna purchase locally-produced meat, fruit and vegetables for distribution to low-income individuals and families.

Northwest Michigan Habitat for Humanity
Build a home for one low-income family in Emmet County
Amount granted: $15,000
Emmet County is experiencing a crisis due to lack of affordable housing options, which is especially impacting families who make between $34,000 and $54,000 annually. In 2020, Northwest Michigan Habitat for Humanity will initiate a new Home Ready Program designed to more quickly meet our area’s growing need for affordable housing. Those who participate will have the opportunity to purchase an affordable, high quality, energy efficient home with low-interest financing through USDA Rural Development. Using high-quality modular technology, homes will be built indoors under controlled conditions and can be manufactured and assembled onsite in much less time than traditional construction methods. This allows for cost and quality controls and increases Habitat’s capacity to serve more families each year. A grant to this project will go toward the construction of one of three planned modular homes scheduled for completion in Fall 2020.

The Salvation Army
Break the cycle of poverty in Emmet County families
Amount granted: $15,000
Salvation Army has a long history of working with individuals and families facing financial hardship. Recently the organization launched a new program–Pathway of Hope–designed to help families more-intentionally break the cycle of poverty in their lives. Pathway of Hope provides a combination of intensive case management, emergency aid and ‘wrap around’ services. Families work closely with a social worker, who assesses them on the ‘domains’ that affect a self-sufficient household: income, employment, housing, food, childcare, child education, adult education, legal, healthcare, life skills, mental health, substance abuse, family relations, mobility, spiritually and community involvement. Together the family and the social worker create a household budget and specific goals for the family to track and accomplish. A grant to this project will help launch the Pathway of Hope program in Emmet County.


Bear Creek Township
Plan for a Bear River ‘water trail’
Amount granted: $7,000
Although Little Traverse Bay is the centerpiece of Emmet County, attracting thousands each year from all over the Midwest, the Bear River, the bay’s largest tributary, is an underutilized and under-appreciated gem of the region. Bear Creek Township would like to change that. Nearly six miles of the Bear River runs through Bear Creek Township. The township would like to complete a Water Trail Master Plan for it, which would guide future improvements along the river for recreation, education and stewardship. Water Trails not only promote recreation along a river, but by doing so, those using the trail are more prone to protect it. A grant to this project will help Bear River Township hire a consultant to draft a Water Trail Master Plan.

Emmet Sportsmen’s Foundation, in partnership with Harbor Springs Outdoors Club
Purchase medical and safety kits to ensure a safe environment for patrons
Amount granted: $2,500
The Harbor Springs Outdoors Club (HSOC) promotes sound conservation and environmental programs to the public and provides a safe place to enjoy outdoor activities. Each year, the Club hosts approximately 400 members and their guests, Boy Scout outings, school, church and veterans groups. Last summer, there were three incidents requiring medical attention, yet the regular first aid kits were inadequate. The Harbor Springs Outdoors Club has partnered with Emmet Sportsmen’s Foundation to act as the fiduciary for this project. This grant will allow HSOC to purchase 4 medical kits (1 each for the 3 shooting ranges and 1 for the clubhouse), and an automatic external defibrillator (AED).

North Emmet Little League
Improve safety on the girls’ softball field
Amount granted: $8,765
The North Emmet Little League provides Little League baseball and softball experiences for youth in Pellston and northern Emmet County. Currently, the minor/major girls’ softball field has a partial permanent fence and the other half is a temporary fence installed each spring by the Village of Pellston. It is the only field in the area with a temporary fence and it creates a safety hazard for players. It is not uncommon for girls to fall over the fence when trying to catch a ball, and with no exit gate, if a player is injured one has to jump over the temporary fence or go around, delaying attention to the injured player. A grant to this project will allow North Emmet Little League to install a permanent fence with appropriate safety equipment on the girls’ minor/major field.