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Detroit Foundation Urges Local Nonprofits to Apply for Grants

Detroit Foundation Urges Local Nonprofits to Apply for Grants

By Tammy Pitts, MNA Director of Communications and Marketing



The impact of COVID-19 on Michigan nonprofits has meant canceled in-person fundraisers and a strain on budgets and resources. Yet, at a time when local nonprofits need funding to remain afloat, one of the oldest charitable organizations in Detroit tells me that applications for grant funding are down. Grants are vital for nonprofits- especially in a pandemic. So, what could be the reason for a decline in applications for funding that can be used to help children in the Detroit area? Board member Eileen Dixon of the Detroit Industrial School Foundation provided some insight.

Eileen, tell me about your organization?

“Founded in 1857, the Detroit Industrial School Foundation is one of the oldest charitable organizations in metro Detroit. We offer grants to nonprofitEileen Dixon, Detroit Industrial School Foundation organizations in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties that provide services that directly benefit children in need. Our priorities, in order, are basic needs (food, clothing, emergency shelter); academic enrichment; educational supplies; special needs; cultural enrichment; environmental/nature discovery; recreation equipment; field trips; and camperships.”

The coronavirus pandemic led to a stark plunge in public school enrollment nationwide and many districts have reported that enrollment has not rebounded. We also know that nonprofits are still facing challenges as the pandemic continues.  Why wouldn’t nonprofits be inclined to apply for funding that would benefit children in need?  

“We’ve continued to see applications from organizations providing basic needs, but the drop off seems to be with our nonprofits supporting academic enrichment, tutoring, field trips and camperships.  Although we can’t know for certain why that is, we believe it’s because many of those programs simply haven’t been taking place because of COVID.”

Yes, pandemic closures prompted many zoos and museums to launch virtual field trips due to the fact that in-person field trips and activities were canceled. How many grant applications on average did you receive before the pandemic? How many are you receiving currently?

“We award grants twice a year, in the spring and fall. While the number of applications we receive can fluctuate, we usually receive up to about 20 applications each season. We received a total of 26 applications this year. 17 applications this past spring (of 2021), which is typical- but we only got nine this fall. That is in comparison with 12 applications in fall of 2020 and 17 applications in fall of 2019 (pre-pandemic).”

Children need vital resources to thrive. And the Detroit Industrial School Foundation provides funding for projects that directly benefit children residing in Detroit and the Tri-County area (Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb).  Can you elaborate more on those vital services?

Those would be services that fall under our giving priorities: basic needs (food, clothing, emergency shelter); academic enrichment; educational supplies; special needs; cultural enrichment; environmental/nature discovery; recreation equipment; field trips; and camperships. The support we provide helps Detroit-area agencies improve the lives of children in need.

Walk me through the process of applying for a grant- would you say it’s simple?

“It’s easy and straightforward. Organizations can apply online on our website. Applicants are asked to provide a two-page overview describing their project, budget, and goals. The application deadlines are March 1, for our spring awards and September 1, for the fall. Our grants usually fund projects up to $5,000.”

The Detroit Industrial School Foundation doled out grants the last two cycles totaling just under $100,000 to 24 organizations supporting children in the Detroit area. State officials say the pandemic will continue to take an economic toll on families – and we know those families will continue to lean on nonprofits in their communities for support. And that is why I’m encouraging nonprofits in the Tri-County area with projects that will directly benefit children in Macomb, Wayne, and Oakland counties, to apply for grant funding from the Detroit Industrial School Foundation. Pilot projects will also be considered. Officials will begin evaluating grant applications after March 1, 2022, for the spring, however organizations can submit applications now to be considered for the spring cycle. If you miss that  deadline, the next round will be doled out in the fall of 2022. Click here for more information and to apply.

To pitch a story for MNA’s blog, email: tpitts@mnaonline.org