2020: The Year of Impact
From Mike Goorhouse, President/CEO of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area
Dear Friend of the Community Foundation,
This week, one year ago, we launched our Emergency Human Needs Fund as part of a coalition effort to respond to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. Join me as I look back on the past twelve months and all that CFHZ was able to accomplish to meet our mission in service of our community during a uniquely challenging time.
There is no question in my mind that the highlight of the past year for CFHZ was our “Community Impact” work. The magnitude and creativity of how we deployed Community’s Endowment resources was significantly greater than any other year in my time as President/CEO of CFHZ. The flexibility of our Community’s Endowment resources showed their immense value and important role in helping maintain a thriving community through any circumstances. We spent more than our traditional endowment spend policy and many in the community chose to augment our available grant dollars with a combined $1.4 million in gifts to the Emergency Human Needs Fund and COVID-19 Community Stabilization Fund.
Ensuring that our community navigated these challenging times while limiting the impact on our vulnerable populations required collaboration and creativity. Our relationships allowed us to move quickly to participate in, and lead, the community response to COVID-19 — coordinating information and services for those who wanted to help and those who needed help. CFHZ collaborated with partners including the Greater Ottawa County United Way and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation to establish a short-term Emergency Human Needs Fund. During the first eight weeks of the crisis nearly $1 million was raised and awarded to local nonprofits to help keep people fed, housed and healthy.
While that was happening, our endowed resources allowed us to launch a new, innovative Line of Credit Guarantee Program to help nonprofit organizations with short term cash flow needs. With many of our nonprofit partners losing significant revenue due to cancelled events, closure of resale stores, and loss of fee-for-service revenue, CFHZ used $1.7 million of our assets to guarantee Lines of Credit for local nonprofits, in partnership with West Michigan Community Bank.
As a clearer picture emerged of the depth and breadth of the pandemic’s impact on our community, CFHZ again used our relationships to partner with local families and companies to launch the COVID-19 Community Stabilization Fund. This fund was designed to deploy resources into our community in ways that complement the range of other public sector resources coming to the Holland/Zeeland area. We used our Community’s Endowment resources to launch the fund with $200,000 and then local families and companies contributed an additional $800,000, allowing us to distribute $1 million focused on preventing people from slipping into poverty, increasing access to mental health and substance abuse services, and mitigating the education opportunity gap.
Amid an already challenging year, the flexibility of our Community’s Endowment resources, and the breadth and depth of our relationships across all parts of our community, allowed us to respond swiftly to the opportunity to support our community’s efforts to make progress against racism and towards racial equity. In June, we awarded five local initiatives a combined $105,000 in grants to support their work to help make our community a more inclusive and equitable place for all.
More specific financial information about how resources were deployed is highlighted in the graphics below. It’s important to note that many of these grants were an adaptation to the unique challenges of the year. We’ve split the breakdown of our impact into two groups — those that were a continuation of the work we do in a typical year, and those that were in response to the specific challenges and opportunities the past year brought us. The impact you see captured below further deepens my belief that having a robust Community Endowment matters for the long-term health and vitality of the Holland/Zeeland area.
We activated the third part of our mission — leading and partnering in community-level initiatives — in more ways than ever this past year. The depth of our existing, trust-built relationships allowed CFHZ to act nimbly, make decisions quickly, and be bold with new approaches. We participated in the Care Ottawa County Coalition by developing and promoting the group’s website, providing a central point for information about how to get involved in COVID-19 relief efforts. We led and managed the Direct Cash Assistance program with Movement West Michigan, Good Samaritan Ministries, Community Action House, and Family Independence Initiative. This dynamic new program empowered over 1,000 residents by providing $500 in unrestricted cash for them to cover their most pressing financial needs. We participated in drafting and promoting a community anti-racism pledge with Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance. We continued our leadership role with Housing Next as it reached its halfway point in our five-year commitment to promote sustainable, affordable housing options. We also partnered with the downtown business relief efforts led by the Chamber of Commerce and Lakeshore Advantage through the Now for the Next Fund.
Throughout the year I thought about Janet DeYoung, Bill Vanderbilt and many others who dedicated themselves to building the Community’s Endowment for such a time as this. I think of the donors who contributed to the Community’s Endowment as part of the Kellogg Foundation matching grant opportunity 30 years ago, who included the Community’s Endowment as a beneficiary of their estate plans over the years, who participated in the Today. Tomorrow. Forever. Campaign, or who gave small and big amounts each year in between. Little did any of them know what could lie ahead, but they knew the value of a strong, robust endowment to respond to unknown challenges in the future.
I’ll end by sharing how grateful I feel for the partnership of our donors, and our nonprofits who use these resources to invest in the lives of our neighbors and friends. I am immensely proud to have led CFHZ this year, to be here for this moment and to validate the trust placed in us by our partners. Thank you, my friends, for joining us in being there for our community during such a challenging year.