Supporting Our Community for over 25 years Established in 1988


Make the Difference

The Cadillac Area Community Foundation enhances the quality of life for all members of our community through philanthropy – connecting donor gifts with the needs of our community.

Upcoming Events


Sunday March 31st at 1:25pm



The window is now open for Missaukee County nonprofits to apply to the Missaukee Area Community Foundation for a grant! Applications will be accepted through March 31st. You can learn more, and access an application, at http://cadillacfoundation.org/missaukee/

Applications accepted anytime during the month of March.

Sunday March 31st at 1:34pm


The Foundation is currently accepting scholarship applications. Visit the "Scholarships" tab for scholarship information and and application form. The deadline for most of our scholarship programs is April 15.

Sunday March 31st at 1:50pm


The Cadillac & Kellogg for Youth Committee, an Advisory Committee to the Board of Trustees of the Cadillac Area Community Foundation, accepts Youth Grant applications from September 1 through May 31.  For further information and an application, please visit the "CACF Grantmaking" tab on this website.

Executive Director's Blog

March 2019

March is Reading Month

Literacy is one of the most fundamental skills necessary for a successful future. Reading plays a critical role in a child’s cognitive growth and development. Data has shown that learning to read at a young age can increase a student’s ability to remember facts, comprehend information and be successful in both school and a career.

In 2013, our local Imagination Library was founded as a collaborative effort between charitable business owners, philanthropic donors, the Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District, the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce and the Cadillac Area Community Foundation.

This Program, which resides at the Wexford-Missaukee ISD, provides one age-appropriate book per month to every enrolled child in Wexford and Missaukee County, from birth to age five.  The Dolly Parton Foundation "Imagination Library" offers their assistance by determining which books are age appropriate;  and sending them to the family's homes straight from their facility.   This is all done at no charge to the book recipients.

A Fund was opened at the Cadillac Area Community Foundation so that caring community members, charitable Foundations, and generous businesses could make gifts for this program to provide the books for the children.  This program is 100% funded by donations and grants, and 100% of the funds go towards the program. 

In September 2018, Wexford Missaukee County United Way offered to match $1 for every $1 raised by our local Imaginary Library Advisory Committee over the next six months, up to a maximum of $30,000.  Once that challenge was issued it was boots on the ground; the committee was committed to raising the money for the match. 

Through promotions, grants, donations, matches, birthday pledges, annual charitable giving, and celebrity server nights the match was met before the March deadline.  Your Foundation was able to award a grant of $5000 for the Imagination Library match, from the Helen & Harvey Pell Fund for Education.  The Cadillac Area Community Foundation Youth Advisory Committee, and the Rotary Interact Club of Cadillac High School, were able to raise over $500 toward the match by working as Celebrity Servers at Culvers.

The $30,000 match was raised, and our local Imagination Library Program has received a total of $60,000 to help insure that our local young children have the educatiojnal advantages that come with being young readers. 

Thank you to all of the donors, and the Wexford-Missaukee United Way.  You truly do make the difference!




February 2019

Foundation Grants and their Return on Investment.

Return on investment (ROI) is a traditional financial metric used to analyze the efficiency of an investment. ROI = profit from an investment/investment cost and is usually expressed as a percentage. For instance, if you invest $1,000 in creating a website and it increases your sales by $1,500, then the ROI = (500 / 1,000) x 100 = 50%.

Grantmaking is another type of financial transaction, but what about the ROI, Return on Investment, of those grants?  One of the most common worries for our donors how is their investment going to be used, and is it going to make a difference.  How do we measure the return?

In normal financial analysis, Return on Investment is the measurement of money gained or lost relative to the money invested. In grantmaking, the Return on Investment is an attempt to measure the financial values created by the organization through delivery of services to the community. 

A grantmaking ROI is built on the logic of cost/benefit analysis; and is different in that it is designed to measure the comparable accountability and value of organizations whose results cannot always be easily measured in money. 

There are two types of analysis that can be used to determine the ROI:


• Evaluative analysis – which is based on actual outputs and outcomes that have already taken place or are currently in process;

• Forecast analysis - which predicts how much financial social value will be created if the activities meet their intended outcomes.


As an example, the Imagination Library Program is housed at the Wexford Missaukee ISD, and is part of their Early Childhood Education Program.  The Program has been awarded multiple grants through unrestricted and restricted funds held at the Foundation. 


These grants were made because we know, through program research and data collection, that participating children develop a higher degree of literacy, an improved attitude toward reading, earlier mastery of literacy skills, and greater success in the educational system. 


But where is the return on our investment?  In this case, it is a Forecast Analysis situation.  We know the immediate benefits, but we need to know long term, and the data is available through the Literacy Foundation.


We know that the consequences of illiteracy on individuals and society include: higher unemployment; lower income; lower-quality jobs; precarious financial position; little value is given to education and reading within the family often leading to intergenerational transmission of illiteracy; low self-esteem leading to isolation.  There is even an impact on health: Illiterate individuals have more workplace accidents, take longer to recover and more often misuse medication through ignorance of health care resources and because they have trouble reading and understanding the relevant information (warnings, dosage, contraindications, etc.).


The cost for a single child to participate in the Imagination Library Program is $24 a year x 5 years = $120 for the full program.    The cost to the individual, and to society, for a single illiterate adult is well into the thousands of dollars.  In this case the ROI is very high.


Every grant awarded by the Foundation is required to complete a comprehensive evaluation of the program/project for which the grant was awarded.  By reviewing these evaluations, and sometimes continuing program tracking beyond the initial grant evaluation period, we are able to determine if the program/project met its objectives and has a significant Return on Investment.


If you would like information about investing in the Cadillac Area Community Foundation to make a positive impact for generations to come, please feel free to contact me.


Best Regards,



January 2019

Putting our Strategic Plan to Work

In the fall of 2017, the Foundation Board of Trustees, myself, and Lyn Jenks, Consultant from the Council of Michigan Foundations began to outline our strategic direction for the Foundation.  Our first task was to look at our mission statement, which we revised to read:

“The Cadillac Area Community Foundation enhances the quality of life for all people in our community through philanthropy – connecting donor gifts with the needs in our community.”


As we continually looked back to the mission statement, we moved on to determine where we should focus our resources and how we can best serve the Community, define Board roles, set goals for each area of fund development,  look at creative ways to make CACF the “hub” for all things philanthropic, and review policies, financials, and human resources best practices. 


In 2018 our internal audit was completed, all of our policies, procedures, and standards were reviewed. In addition to the review, we added a Youth Protection Policy to protect our advisors, youth, and Foundation.  Maintaining IRS Standards and the high-level stewardship and fiduciary responsibilities are vital to the role of the Foundation. 


Next on the list was to promote grant availability by connecting with our non-profit organizations.  As Executive Director of the Foundation, I participate in over eleven monthly meetings that address issues we face as a community such as physical health, homelessness, adult literacy, veteran’s needs, economic development, youth issues, and community safety.  Unfortunately, these organizations face unmet challenges every single day.  Our presence gives us the opportunity to encourage the organization to apply for grants, or for the Foundation to be proactive to a current issue. 


Also in 2018 our market growth of 14.5%, gave us the opportunity to increase our spending policy on funds from 4% to 5% for 2019.    This increase meant that funds had an additional 1% for grantmaking in 2019, but, this financial growth is only one piece.


In 2019 we will work on several tactics to make the Cadillac Area Community Foundation the philanthropic hub in our community.  We will focus on working with non-profits and helping them to identify and secure the human and financial resources needed to advance their mission.


We will continue our efforts towards “quality of life for all people” while evolving our policies, practices, use of technology, and business model to be the best stewards. 


Lastly, we are committed to serving our donors wishes and the community needs through charitable funds and strategic grantmaking initiatives.


Thank you for your support.


Beyond Grateful,



December 2018

Conveying Family Legacies and Values.

Time and time again, we hear the next generation express how their grandparent’s stories have strengthened their sense of identity.  For generations, conveying family legacies and values helped build a culture for the future. 

Your passion could be education, land preservation, culture, or beautifying your community, all for generations to enjoy in the future.  We all want to leave our mark.  But, how do we do it?

The Community Foundation has their finger on the pulse of the community and the local nonprofits; we have the ability to be proactive in directing grants to those organizations with the greatest need.  It is the donors choice whether to designate funds to specific needs, or to choose to let the Community Foundation Board award grants that can make a difference in the lives of our community members.

The Community Foundation is a very well run philanthropic organization.  Our Board is professional, hardworking, diverse, and talented.  They are forward thinking, and excellent stewards of our donors gifts. 

A planned gift will help sustain the Community Foundation for years to come and help make a difference in the community.  We will invest the money wisely and it will address community needs.

Every day, people from all walks of life make gifts to charity through their trusts. It’s so simple, and it does make a tremendous difference in the world they leave behind.

If you are interested in creating your own legacy, the Community Foundation can help you. 

Happy Holidays


November 2018

Giving Thanks.

As human beings, it’s in our nature to help.

The Cadillac Area Community Foundation has been a community-based, philanthropic organization for over 30 years;  The Foundation has defined six areas that our grantmaking is focused on.  They are: Arts & Culture, Economic Development, Education, Youth, Recreation & Environment, and Health & Human Services.

Our ongoing work with local non-profit organizations motivates us to move on ideas and projects to better our community.  Our Donors passions and interests are a critical piece of the foundation's work.  A major gift from a donor becomes the main driver of the fund agreement.  Our donor's wishes are very much respected when granting to a cause that is important to them. 

Community Foundations are a place to connect with donors who share your passions, ideas, or concerns in their community.   Some donors choose to be anonymous and others are just eager to support a cause that is important to them.    We truly believe anyone can be a philanthropist.  It is the generosity of our donors who make each and every one of our grants and scholarship possible.

Helping our generous donors reach their philanthropic goals is one of the most important roles we play in the community foundation.  Working together to leave a better future for generations to come.

Our Board of Trustees and Staff consider it a great privilege that donors have entrusted their legacy and philanthropy with us. Without our donors, our impact and growth potential are limited.

We are THANKFUL for every donation received.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Cadillac Area Community Foundation is Celebrating 30 Years of Philanthropy!!


October 2018

Join Us to Create Change through the Women’s Giving Circle

The Cadillac Area Women’s Giving Circle is a network of women with a shared passion— they make a difference, they give back, and they want to create real change in issues that affect the quality of life for women and girls.

The Giving Circle pools the charitable gifts of our members into the Cadillac Area Women’s Giving Circle Fund, leveraging the power of every dollar to create real and sustainable change by funding programs and services that address issues of safety, health, and equality for women and girls in the Cadillac area.  Since August 2009, the Circle has awarded over $140,000 in grants.

Your Foundation is the partner of the Giving Circle in this work. The Cadillac Area Women’s Giving Circle is a Fund of the Cadillac Area Community Foundation.  The Women’s Giving Circle established their Fund at the Community Foundation because of our shared values, and the opportunity to create synergy in addressing issues that make a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Cadillac area.

I invite you to learn more about the Women's Giving Circle and their work at http://www.cadillacareawomensgivingcircle.org

Next year the Cadillac Area Women’s Giving Circle will celebrate their 10 Year Anniversary.  Their goal remains unchanged; they share a common philanthropic goal to benefit the needs of area women and girls.  In addition to a full annual meeting, the ladies meet monthly at a local restaurant to share a meal and discuss the issues facing area women and girls.

You have an opportunity to join the Cadillac Area Women’s Giving Circle; they are currently accepting new members.    Membership is $500 per year.  $450 of your membership is awarded in the form of grants to the community.  $50 is placed in the endowed portion of the Cadillac Area Women’s Giving Circle Fund.

If you would like additional information about becoming a member, please contact me at 231-775-9911.


The Cadillac Area Community Foundation is Celebrating 30 Years of Philanthropy!!


September 2018

Donor Advised Fund vs Private Foundation

As giving has increased, so has the popularity of Donor-Advised Funds.  A Donor-Advised Fund is a separately identified fund or account that is maintained and operated by a section 501(c) (3) organization, which is called a “sponsoring organization.”  The Cadillac Area Community Foundation is a qualified sponsoring organization, and houses numerous Donor-Advised Funds.

Donors make irrevocable, endowed gifts to the sponsoring organization to establish a named fund and then recommend grants from the Fund to qualified nonprofit organizations of their choice over time.  There are over 300,000 Donor-Advised Funds in the United States today–roughly three times the number of private foundations. There are many reasons they are so popular and growing; I have listed a few:

*It takes just a few minutes to create a Donor-Advised Fund, and donors can recommend grants from their Fund at any time. Like private foundations, the original donor may assign successive advisors so that others may carry on their legacy of giving when they are gone.


*Donors may give a wide variety of assets, including cash, appreciated stock, life insurance policies, and real estate. Donor-Advised Funds provide donors with significant tax advantages. Contributions are deductible, and gifts of appreciated property like public stock, closely-held stock, and real estate are deductible at full fair market value. This is a significant advantage over giving closely-held stock or real estate to a private foundation, where the deduction is limited to the cost basis of the asset.


*There are no costs to establish a Donor-Advised Fund and no separate tax filings.  Administrative fees are minimal, and the sponsoring organization takes care of all filings. 


*Donor-Advised Funds allow donors to recommend grants over their own timelines.  The donor has flexibility when unique tax events arise. For example, an individual who sells a company can easily establish a Donor-Advised Fund to help maximize immediate tax benefits and then recommend grants in the years ahead.


*Donors who choose to give through their Donor-Advised Fund may remain anonymous if they wish. This is difficult to achieve with private foundations due to the public nature of their tax filings.

If taking charge of your personal philanthropy, and supporting the organizations and interests that are important to you is one of your goals, I invite you to call me to further discuss Donor-Advised Funds.


Best Regards,



Cadillac Area Community Foundation is Celebrating 30 years of Philanthropy!!


August 2018

You’re invited…..to make the gift of a lifetime.


You are invited to join the most generous and forward-thinking members of our community, by joining the Legacy Society of the Cadillac Area Community Foundation.  Our Members all have made the commitment to support the future of our community through an estate gift to the Cadillac Area Community Foundation.


Here are the who, what, where, when, and why,  of leaving a legacy gift. 

Who Can be a Member:  Anyone with a desire to give can make a legacy gift.

What Kind of Gift: A legacy gift can be made through a will in the form of  IRAs, securities, real estate, insurance benefits and cash.

Where Can my Gift Help:  Your legacy gift can be designated to support the arts, enrich education for our youth, protect the environment, provide food, clothing and shelter to the needy, safeguard health, foster a stronger community and more.

When Do I Designate a Gift:  Any time you are preparing or changing your will or estate plan, you may want to consider charitable legacy gifts.    Your gift can even create a Fund to benefit an agency, organization, or a special interest.  Together, we can craft a fund agreement now to take effect later. 

Why Would Someone Leave a Legacy Gift:  For many people, these gift are preserving the family name, honoring loved ones, providing for heirs, supporting a nonprofit or interest that they care about, minimizing tax burdens, or to help provide continued support of the community  they call home.  Bequests to the community foundation are exempt from estate taxes. 

You have worked hard, saved wisely, and invested well.  Assets you leave to the community will continue to grow and support good works today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.  Let the Cadillac Area Community Foundation help you explore your own opportunities to leave a lasting legacy for the causes you cherish.

Best Regards,



JULY 2018

Volunteers are the Cornerstone of our Community Foundation.


A community foundation is a nonprofit organization that operates in a fiscally responsible manner so that resources can be most fully utilized to support their mission.  For the Cadillac Area Community Foundation, this means utilizing the talents of volunteers to help power the organization. 


Our Volunteer Board of Trustees take on tremendous responsibility.  They are a voting Board with full authority and responsibility to develop policies, procedures and regulations for the operation of the organization; to monitor the organization’s financial health, programs and overall performance; and to provide the Executive Director with the resources to meet the needs of those the organization serves.


The Volunteer Investment Committee is responsible for the execution and oversight of the Foundation investments and investment managers, and makes quarterly reports to the full Board of Trustees on investment matters including the acquisition, disposition, administration, and management of the investments of the Foundation and the performance of the investment managers.  The investment committee ensures compliance with the Investment Policy. 


The Volunteer Scholarship Committees have the duty of reviewing the numerous scholarship applications submitted to the foundation every year, and making recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding the scholarship awards.  Each scholarship committee is given selection criteria, specific to each scholarship program, to use while reviewing the applications.  The process requires a great deal of time, diligence, and commitment on the part of the volunteer. 


The mission of our Volunteer Youth Advisors is to empower young people, involve them in the community and teach them about philanthropy while serving as stewards through granting.     Advisors are supportive, flexible, and consistent advocates for valuing youth’s perspectives. 

For over 30 years, volunteers have served in every aspect of your Community Foundation.  Our best fund development team are our volunteers; they plant the idea of investment in the community by supporting the community foundation through their donations of time and resources.  Our volunteers are our contacts in the community in a variety of ways.  Volunteers make the organization, and they are not celebrated enough.  They make the difference.


We want all of our volunteers, past and present, to know we greatly appreciate their commitment, wisdom, and dedication to the Foundation.


Thank You,



June 2018

Scholarship Season!


The Cadillac Area Community Foundation received over 65 Scholarship applications this past spring, and awarded over $37,000 in scholarships with the help of our Scholarship Committees.

Those applications were from students interested in studying in all areas; and they applied for Scholarship Programs which specialized in General Education, Graduate Studies, Elementary Education, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Performing Arts.  Scholarship requirements varied and covered everything from educational achievements, income levels, civic involvement, extra-curricular participation, community volunteerism, overcoming adversity, and even good citizenship.  

Individual Scholarship Committees met to discuss each eligible student for the particular Scholarship Program.  They read applications and, most importantly, the required essay that accompanied the application.  The essays are a chance for the Committee Members to meet the students through their words and develop an idea of each students’ unique character beyond their GPA.  Personal growth, leadership, extra-curricular and/or academic are all factors to be considered in the Scholarship award decisions.  This is not an easy task for the Committee.

Scholarship Committees are vital to the process, and they have to make difficult choices.  They do not know whose application they are reviewing, it is an anonymous process.  They only have the information presented to them in the application and essay to base their decisions.  A grade point average is important to help determine the potential for success in college, but an essay can tell a very personal story of the applicant.  It is up to the Committee to consider the nuances of that story, in combination with the written application and transcript of grades, and determine the students that best fit the criteria of each Scholarship Program.

The Cadillac Area Community Foundation would like to thank all of the Scholarship Committee members who generously donated so much of their time to participate in this process to determine which of those students will help to define the future of our community! 


Best Regards,



May 2018

Mixing Passion with Purpose

Two years ago, a 10 year old boy, Riley Bigger, made a request of the Cadillac City Council.  He   asked what it would take for the City to install a wheelchair accessible swing at the playground on the Keith McKellop Walkway. 


Riley came up with the idea when he was attending a church conference and saw parents lift children from their wheelchairs into swings.  When he returned to Cadillac he was determined to see a type of swing added to the city park that is wheelchair accessible next to the ADA compliant playground.   The City of Cadillac thought it was a good idea too, and so Riley began to fundraise for his project.


As it turned out, the project was much more expensive than initially realized, and significant help was needed. Riley found that help in his local Community Foundation.


The Cadillac Area Community Foundation, and the Cadillac & Kellogg for Youth Advisory Committee, thought it was a great project, and looked at how they could help.  A $15,000 grant award, $10,000 from the Foundation Cornerstone Fund and $5000 from the Youth Fund, completed the fundraising for the wheelchair accessible swing near the ADA Playground on the Lakefront.  This dream that Riley had to help others is now becoming a reality.


According to the Wexford-Missaukee ISD, we have more than 25 students aged 26 and younger who are wheelchair bound and have never had the opportunity to enjoy most playground activities. 
Your Community Foundation looks for opportunities to make our community more vibrant, and improve quality of life for all residents.   This project will bring smiles and impact lives; it was a project of passion with a purpose. 

Your gifts to the Community Foundation will impact lives in our area now and when assistance is needed in the future.  We help make a long-term investment in causes that matter most to you.

Please feel free to contact us for more information on how to open a fund about what matters to you.


Happy Spring!



April 2018

Young Volunteers: The Benefits of Community Service

Our youth are increasingly looking for opportunities to improve our community and school programs.  Youth volunteerism builds discipline, respect for others, develops leadership skills, and interactions with students that they might not otherwise encounter.  These youth volunteers are driven to give back to their community and school.  Often, they enjoy engaging with adults. 

The personal benefits of community service are very rewarding.  Youth that are involved in community or school service groups are likely to have a strong work ethic, learn to manage their time, and less likely to get into trouble.

The Cadillac Area Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) was established in 1990.  Over the 28 years more than 700 students have been a part of the group.  The Cadillac and Kellogg for Youth Committee is part of the Michigan Community Foundations' statewide Youth Project (MCFYP) funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. This program was initiated to build community foundation capacity, to establish youth as philanthropists, and to build permanent and growing funds within each community to meet local youth needs. 

As part of the commitment, every three years the Youth Advisory Committee completes a Youth Needs Assessment Survey of students in 5th through 12th grade.  The Needs Assessment results are then used when evaluating the necessity of the projects and programs they receive grant applications for.    The YAC students take this responsibility very serious, and they discuss in detail the needs of each grant submitted before making a final decision. 

The Youth Advisory Committee has awarded more than $538,000 to programs and projects that  address local youth needs and improve the lives of the youth in our community.  The Youth Advisory Committee members have  volunteered over 20,000 hours. 

These young volunteers are committed youth leaders through a structured program of volunteerism, philanthropy, and personal development.

Best Regards,



The National Standards Seal by our name indicates official confirmation from the Council on Foundations that we have met the most rigorous standards in philanthropy. It affirms our commitment to financial security, transparency and accountability. It says our grantmaking includes an open, competitive process designed to address the changing needs of our community. The National Standards Seal also confirms our history of honoring donors' wishes.

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