NEW BUFFALO — The Pokagon Fund (TPF) Board of Directors recently approved over $313,000 in grant awards to nonprofit organizations located in Harbor Country as well as Dowagiac and Hartford, Mich., and South Bend, Ind.

“Over the past four years, The Pokagon Fund Board has focused on becoming more strategic with donations so that our long-term effect on the community is more deeply felt,” stated the Fund’s Board Chair, Rob Gow. “During earlier years, the Fund had more resources to distribute and the Board felt free to spread the wealth generously. As monthly income has decreased over time, the Board has striven to be governed more by data and insight to intensify our impact.”  

In that regard, the Fund engaged in a community needs assessment in 2018, which allowed the public to identify those issues most crucial to future economic development in the area, which included affordable housing, a community center, greater cross-municipal collaboration between Harbor Country units of government and the expansion of high speed internet. “While the Fund is not able to address these issues single-handedly, we are dedicated to bringing the region’s rural populations, regional government and businesses together so they can generate solutions that work locally,” explained the Fund’s Executive Director, Janet Cocciarelli.

Specific to the Fund’s Education funding focus, the following grants were approved in May: United Way of Southwest Michigan​ Dolly Parton Imagination Library, $5,000 to increase the total number of Harbor Country children who receive 12 books delivered to their home each year and $4,000 to provide school supplies for Dowagiac elementary students; Three Oaks Township Public Library​, $2,676 to expand the Little Free Libraries program throughout the village; River Valley School District, $27,000 to provide Summer Day Camp, which includes the summer reading enrichment program; 2019 TPF Scholarships, $100,000 to support high school and adult postsecondary education; South Bend’s Center for the Homeless​, $6,414 to enrich after-school programming and provide summer field trips for homeless children; Hartford Public Library​, $2,500 to underwrite their Summer Reading Program; Hartford Public Schools​, $15,000 to build classroom libraries for students in 2nd and 3rd grades; and, Van Buren County Historical Museum​, $5,000 for educational workshops.

With regard to the Fund’s Poverty Reduction funding focus, the following grants were approved: South Bend’s St. Margaret’s House​, $20,000 to underwrite the SELF (Safety, Emotions, Loss and Future) program and provide food items for homeless women; South Bend’s CASIE Center​, $10,000 to provide truancy prevention educational programming to families; South Bend’s Camp Millhouse​, $20,000 to support renovation efforts; and, South Bend’s Upper Room Recovery Community​, $10,000 to support women in rehabilitation.

Lastly, specific to the Fund’s Community Vitality funding focus, the following grants were approved: Village of Grand Beach, $58,000 to preserve 42 acres of forest lands as a preserve; New Buffalo Township Library​, $7,000 to update videoconferencing technology in the Pokagon Room; Southold Dance Theater​, $15,000 to underwrite the Harbor Country Nutcracker; Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce​, $1,500 to increase the children’s activities at the Strawberry Festival 2019; and, Michigan State University Youth Development, $500 to support ACORNS Youth Program.

The Pokagon Fund continues to encourage partnerships with organizations that align with their mission to provide support services for those in need, to enhance 3rd grade literacy and kindergarten readiness and to attract and retain population.

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