Rotary Charities Announces 2017 Grants, Including $75,000 to the Kalkaska Community


December 12, 2017
Leah McCallum, Director of Community Capacity
Rotary Charities of Traverse City
(231) 941-4010

Rotary Charities Announces 2017 Grants, Including $75,000 to the Kalkaska Community

Traverse City, Mich. – Rotary Charities of Traverse City announced the recipients of their fall-cycle grants totaling $749,000.  Twenty-one grants were awarded, including a $75,000 grant to the Kalkaska DDA to build a Community Information Center – the first of many projects that will shape Railroad Square – an anchor project in the downtown revitalization.


“This project has been a focus of the Kalkaska DDA for quite some time, and this grant will facilitate the first phase of the buildout of Railroad Square,” said Cash Cook, Kalkaska DDA Executive Director.  “It will create a platform to market local events and businesses, as well as be available for safety and emergency information. We’re excited for this opportunity!”

NorthSky Nonprofit Network, a program of Rotary Charities, has previously collaborated with the DDA, and other key community stakeholders, to help prioritize projects and drive economic development in Kalkaska County. NorthSky and the DDA relied heavily on the work of Networks Northwest, centered on revitalizing the towns and villages along the US-31 corridor. Railroad Square has always risen to the top, as a key project to kick start new development in Kalkaska.


“During the grant review process, it became clear that this project is meaningful to the people of Kalkaska. It will be a landmark, and resource in the heart of town,” said Marsha Smith, Rotary Charities, Executive Director. “Our staff, board and Rotarian volunteer grant reviewers were impressed by the impact that this project is already having on the Kalkaska business district. Real estate is selling. The farmers market is growing. More food trucks are vending out of the space – all of this, before the project has even broken ground. These are the kinds of high-leverage endeavors that Rotary Charities is thrilled to support.”


In addition to this investment in Kalkaska, the following grants were awarded during this grant cycle:


Arts for All: $9,000

Art Escapes Program Expansion – providing art opportunities for special education classrooms in Leelanau County


Blackbird Arts: $12,500

Community Arts: Voices & Visibility Program – collaborative effort with other local nonprofits, using the arts to raise visibility around complex community problems


City of Traverse City: Partners for Places – Climate Leadership in Rural Michigan: $45,000

Partnership between City and local nonprofits, to strengthen municipal planning around environmentally sustainable infrastructure and meet stated renewable energy goals


Communities in Schools:  $50,000

Expand collaboration in rural school districts to decrease high school dropout rates


Conservation Resource Alliance: $70,000

Support for local nonprofit, state, Tribal and federal partners in a joint-effort to remove the Sabin Dam


El Grupo Norte: $25,000

Support for The Strong TC Project – expanding existing programming to more neighborhoods and launching the Advocate Academy


Father Fred Foundation: $31,500

Expansion of the Eviction Diversion program


Friends of Easling Pool: $70,000

Challenge grant to support renovation of Easling pool in collaboration with Grand Traverse County and other nonprofit partners


Glen Arbor Art Association: $10,000
Expanded exhibition space and support for collaborative programming


Honor Area Restoration Project: $50,000

Platte River property acquisition to provide universal access and recreation opportunities to residents and visitors


Justice for Our Neighbors: $11,000

Expand legal services programming for immigrants in Northern Michigan


Kalkaska DDA: $75,000
Build the Community Information Center – part of the Railroad Square revitalization project


Youth Housing Initiative: $75,000

Collaborative effort of several nonprofit housing partners, to build housing for youth ages 18-24 who are experiencing homelessness


Northwest Michigan Health Services: $30,000
Collaborative effort to provide universally accessible dental service space to low income community members


Traverse Area Recreation Trails (TART): $75,000
Multi-municipality joint venture to complete the Boardman Lake Loop trail


5-County Substance Free Coalition: $30,000
Startup funding for five-county collaborative venture that will build capacity of regional stakeholders involved in the prevention and treatment of substance abuse


Great Start Collaborative – Parent Learning Cohort: $25,000
Support for expansion of Parent Learning Cohort initiative throughout rural Northern Michigan – teaching parents to be better parents, and parent advocates.


Venture North: $35,000

Capacity building for expanded economic opportunity


Village of Elberta: $20,000
Penfold Park improvements – increasing community resources and connections, as well as universal accessibility.


Several of these grant recipients also were awarded NorthSky consulting services program evaluation, program development and other capacity building services


In addition to the single year grants listed above, the Rotary Charities Board voted approve a total of $40,000 in renewals of multiple year grants to Crosshatch and Parallel 45


Since July 2017, Rotary Charities has granted an additional $88,498 in Seed Grants – small grants to launch a new idea or to expand an established initiative. Seed grants are considered on a monthly basis by the board of directors. To learn more about this program, visit:


In recent years, Rotary Charities has shifted from operating as a traditional charity, to a change-making organization. To learn more about this evolution and future opportunities, please join Rotary Charities staff on January 8, 2018 for the Systems Practice Panel. Learn about groups working to understand the root causes of complex community problems (homelessness, substance abuse, etc.). This gathering is free to attend. To learn more and register, visit:



Since its inception in the mid-70s, Rotary Charities has distributed more than $58 million in the form of 1,310 grants to organizations and non-profits in Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Kalkaska and Antrim counties. The public foundation was formed following the 1976 discovery of oil and natural gas reserves on property owned by the Traverse City Rotary Club. Its purpose over the years has been to distribute interest income generated from the oil and gas royalties to organizations throughout the five-county region of northwest Michigan. More information is available at .