2013 Highlights

Written by cffmc Thursday, 20 February 2014 19:55

2013 was another outstanding gift gathering, and fund development year. We created 70 new named funds, which broke the previous record of 62, set just last year. Of that 70, our affiliates created an amazing 34! We believe the added support we provided each affiliate in 2013 (executive liaison and communications) made a difference. Mostly, though, those affiliates are on fire!

Gifts totaled over $16 million dollars! Following last year’s amazing $19 million total, 2013 did not set a new record, but we note that if we deduct the “Pennies From Heaven” gifts from each year (9M in 2012, 6M in 2013), gifts in 2013 were slightly higher than 2012. We are very grateful for the increasing activity of philanthropists and their confidence in the Foundation as a partner.  

We were very pleased to learn from 26 people that they’ve included gifts to the community through us in their wills or estate plans. I do believe the Transfer of Wealth message we continue to spread is having an impact. Love your Home: Leave 5%! 

And 2013 was an incredible grantmaking year, with a total of $10 million going out the door to make a difference in the community! That is far and away a record, beating the previous record (set last year also) by $3.5 Million dollars! Donor Advised Funds granted out $3.8 million dollars, actually more than was granted through our competitive process and Board discretionary funds. 

Even sending $10 Million out the door in grants, we ended the year at $163.8 Million in Total Assets. We never really had a chance to enjoy reaching $150 before we landed well past it!  (Not Complaining!)


Love Your Community Grant Winners

Written by Heidi Sytsema Saturday, 01 December 2012 14:13


We have winners!  Thanks to the Sand Products Corporation Fund, our very own Employee Fund, and TEDxMuskegon, seven of the Love Your Community project ideas are receiving $500 to become reality!

For more details about the winning projects, check out the Love Notes 2012 album on our Facebook page.



23 ideas...6 will win!

Written by Heidi Sytsema Monday, 24 September 2012 15:30

A quick update on the Love Your Community Grant Contest:

The application is now closed.  Creative ideas were submitted by 23 individuals, nonprofits, or businesses, and we can't wait to tell you what they are!  

But not yet.  Next Monday, October 1, we'll post all the ideas on Facebook and you'll have a chance to vote for the ones you like. The top six will get up to $500 to turn their ideas into reality.  

Stay tuned!


Love Your Community Grant Contest!

Written by Heidi Sytsema Thursday, 06 September 2012 14:17

What can you do with $500?

The Community Foundation for Muskegon County wants to know what YOU can do with $500 to make your corner of Muskegon County a little more lovable. So we’re launching another Love Your Community grant contest to find out!
(Download the application!)

Inspired by Peter Kageyama’s message encouraging citizens to declare their love for their community, we will award grants to six projects that demonstrate and share the love! Examples of these “love notes” include last year’s winning projects such as Movies on the Beach, a Play It Forward benefit concert for the Snurfer Sculpture, Portraits of White Lake photography class & exhibit, and more. All of these ideas were created by the people, for the people, using $500 to get them going.

Unlike our traditional grants, Love Your Community grants are open to anyone, including individuals and businesses as well as nonprofits.  Project ideas must be for the benefit of Muskegon County and its residents, whether for a specific neighborhood or community or the county as a whole; they are not for personal or business benefit.  

Submit your idea on this form by emailing it – including your picture/graphic and a 300 character description – to by 5pm on September 21, 2012.  On October 1, we’ll post the ideas on Facebook at and open up the voting.  The six projects that have the most “likes” at noon on Friday, October 12, will receive up to $500 to turn their ideas into reality!  The winning applicants will need to provide a more detailed one-page project description and a budget before funds are released.  As with all of our grants, decisions are subject to Foundation Board of Trustees’ approval.  

Grants are made possible by the CFMC Employee Fund (yes, we practice what we preach!), the Sand Products Corporation Fund, and by the gifts of many others, including one in gratitude for Richard Charles Ford’s commitment to the integrity of persons and of the community.


What $500 Can Do

Written by Heidi Sytsema Thursday, 19 July 2012 17:03

Perhaps you read about the $676,000 grant that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation just awarded us for the HEALTHY Muskegon project...HUGE!  It's a significant investment in the Muskegon & Muskegon Heights communities, and we're excited about the possibilities it brings.  

But on the other end of the grant spectrum...what can $500 do?  Quite a bit, we found out through our Love Your Community mini-grant contest last summer! Recently, some of the winning ideas have become reality:

  • The first Movie on the Beach in June was a success, so organizers are planning a second on July 28: "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" won the vote!  This Friday you can also enjoy a spin-off project:  Movies on the Lawn at the White River Light Station, where "Up!" will show at dusk.
  • Paint the Pavement is scheduled to happen today, unless the much-needed rain causes a delay...A little intersection art by neighborhood students (and funded by our Youth Advisory Council) should slow traffic and be a point of pride once it's completed!
  • Enjoy the "Portraits of White Lake" photography exhibit at the Nuveen Center in Montague through July 28, and see what 36 locals love about the White Lake community.
  • Watch for Harvey Linenbottom and his Amazing Wowsical Traveling Show in downtown neighborhoods.  He's still recuperating from his first voyage to the opening of the Alcoa Children's Fountain, but he'll be taking to the streets again soon!
  • Visit Hackley Public Library, and congratulate them on their designation as a National Literary Landmark for their connection to author Verna Aardema.  Many of her stories were set in Africa, which was the theme of the dedication that took place in June!
  • Check out the new Snurfer Sculpture at the corner of 4th and Western in Downtown Muskegon.  No, the $500 didn't buy the sculpture. But it motivated 4 young entrepreneurs to put on a Play It Forward music event last fall, which raised awareness - and a few thousand dollars - for the sculpture!

With dollars large and small, people are making good things happen in Muskegon County!


What's a Love Note?

Written by Heidi Sytsema Thursday, 14 July 2011 15:44

It’s the candy on the pillow, the hand-written card that goes with the gift…we all know the little things matter in our relationships with people.  But Peter Kageyama encourages us to think about our relationship with our city, and the little things matter there, too.  Filled potholes are great, but they don’t make us love the place where we live.  Public art, places to play, dog parks, mystery bikes, vacant lots turned into gardens, children’s fountains…these are the things that engender love! [See below for some more examples.]

For a little more information and inspiration, you can watch Peter’s TEDx talk or read the Chronicle's recap of Peter's visit to Muskegon.  And here are some of the Love Notes he refers to!


Intersection Art in Portland, OR, and St. Paul, MN makes people smile and keeps traffic moving slower.  


Painted bikes have mysteriously appeared throughout our very own Muskegon, MI!

Detroit is on its way to having a statue of RoboCop thanks to one person's idea and crowdsourcing:

This Muskegon Believes video is our love note to the community!

Dear New Orleans is one of many love notes the city has received in recent years.

STL Style has created a fun line of t-shirts for locals that bear the "inside jokes" that St. Louis residents are proud to wear! 
PS - Several fun ideas for Muskegon t-shirts were generated at the "Loving Your Community" workshop.  Anyone wanna start a t-shirt business?  





Pennies For Your Thoughts?

Written by Heidi Sytsema Friday, 20 May 2011 19:24

altThe morning was a bit dreary as we walked into Nelson School in downtown Muskegon.  Armed with philanthropy videos, donor stories, and jars of pennies, we climbed three flights of stairs to Mrs. Roesler’s fifth grade classroom, the one we “adopted” this year.  Since January, on the First Friday of each month we’ve brought homemade goodies, fresh fruit, and classroom supplies to the kids.  It’s part of an effort within the Nelson & McLaughlin Schools to show the kids that there are business, churches, and organizations surrounding them that care about them and believe in them.  The first couple times we felt a little bit like a delivery service, but since then we’ve been building a relationship, and it’s been a lot of fun.  In May, Chris McGuigan made her legendary no-bake cookies and handed them out with copies of the recipe.  “I was about your age when I learned to make these cookies, so I thought maybe you could try making them too!”  

Today wasn’t a First Friday.  But Mrs. Roesler allowed us an extra visit, this time to talk about philanthropy…a big word for 5th graders!  Our Program Director, Marcy Joy, was a teacher before she joined the Foundation, and she expertly  talked them through the concept of giving your time, talents, and treasures to support the things that are important to you.  From our website the kids were able to read brief stories about some of our donors and identify what was important to them.  A whisper frenzy broke out “hey,that’s Mrs. Husid!” when they recognized a familiar face from their school on one story.  Another student could relate to Alta Daetz’s story when he learned she’d lived in Jefferson Towers:  “I used to live there, too!”  We hope many were encouraged when they learned that Ken & Clara Kolberg’s scholarship fund was there to support Muskegon Public School students – especially minority students – who wanted to become teachers.  Whatever donors care about…that’s what we do.  

To drive this message home, we gave each of the kids a stack of ten pennies.  Five Mason jars labeled Education, Health, Environment, Arts/Music/Theater/Culture, and Happy Neighborhoods awaited their contributions signifying what was important to them.  As their teacher called them forward, they thought carefully about where their pennies would go.  We overheard things like “health is the most important…none of the other things matter if you don’t have that,” and “yeah, but the environment is really important, too.”  One little girl came forward with eight pennies in one hand and two in the other, but in the end all ten went to education.  “Education is really important, because then you can work on the other things.”  

We left Nelson school and the day was much brighter, inside and out.