Foundation Moves to New Office

IMG_5107The Cook Family Foundation has relocated to the second floor of the Exchange Building in downtown Owosso.  The address of the new office is 120 W Exchange, Suite #202.  However, our mailing address remains PO Box 278, Owosso, MI 48867.  Our other contact information has not changed.  You can find all our information, as well as parking suggestions, on our “Contact Us” page.

We are still settling in to our new space, but we would love to have you stop in and say hello.


Next Tech Talk on July 23rd, Focus: Collaboration!

Our addition to the NonProfit Capacity Building Program, “Tech Talk” networking has been a great success. We’re now approaching our fifth meeting–but it’s not too late to join in! If you’d like to be a part of it and haven’t yet signed up, reply to this post or Tweet us @ShiaNPCB or @awolber

The tech group will meet again on July 23rd at 10:30 a.m. at the DeVries Nature Conservancy (2635 N M 52, Owosso, MI 48867) where we’ll focus on Solving Problems Together.

Solve Problems Together  by Andy Wolber (@awolber)

Collaborative tools hold much promise.

They let us work differently. A shared document simplifies collaboration. For example, consider how a shared agenda can change a meeting. Create the agenda, and share it with colleagues. One person inserts a comment. Another replies. I’ve seen a comment conversation resolve an issue days before a meeting occurs.

They let us work together. Collaborative apps let people work together. Multiple people can write words ­­ at the same time. Or tweak budget numbers. Or sort slides.

And they let us work almost anywhere. People can edit from any device, anytime, anywhere. Lots of apps offer collaborative capabilities (e.g., see the list at the end of this post.)

Yet a collaborative tool won’t improve the quality ­­ or quantity ­­ of your ideas. The tools help, but much hard work remains. We tend to forget the following steps when we’re dazzled by new tools.


1. Think

Before you engage with other people, think for yourself. Can you concisely express ­­ in words or an illustration ­­ the problem you seek to solve?

The question often frames the answer. “How do we reduce our expenses?” prompts different thinking than “How we we increase revenue?” even though both attempt to solve a budget imbalance. “How do we eliminate hunger?” points to different solutions than “How do we make sure every child in Shiawassee County receives enough healthy food?”

If you’re stuck, explore the provocations of creativity authors such as Roger Von OechEdward DeBono, or Michael Michalko.

2. Create

Consider the most effective way to express your idea. Funders expect us to use words and numbers: we “write a grant application” (words) with a “detailed budget” (numbers).

Sometimes, we also use images, sounds, or video. We turn numbers into pictures: we portray the problem, such as a graph that indicates an increase in poverty. Or a chart that conveys our organization’s impact, such as the percentage of people in the community we serve. We show pictures, such as “before” and “after” images of a site that volunteers cleaned up. We produce a video to convey the emotional impact our organization had on someone we helped.

3. Share

Tools help the most here: we can make our work visible to others with a quick tap (or click) of a “Share” or “Publish” button. Share to small groups of people to obtain comments. Share to the world when you want everyone to know.

Tools mean that meetings may occur differently. A meeting doesn’t have to be a sequence of extroverted individuals who talk. Even something as simple as a shared spreadsheet might allow anyone in the meeting to add an idea ­­ anytime ­­ without the need to interrupt or write on a flip chart.

We choose the terms by which others may use our publicly shared work. Choose a Creative Commons license to allow other people to reuse, modify, or adapt your work.  Or not. It’s up to you. (As an organization, you might choose to license your work with specific terms. Watch a video to learn more.)

4. Comment

The heart of collaboration lives inside an effective comment. An English translation of a Buddhist document captures the essence of an effective comment: “It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately.  It is spoken beneficially. It is spoke with a mind of good­will.”

Think back to the most recent work­related meeting you attended. How does your speech measure up to each of the five characteristics above?

Collaborative tools let us share items easily. But the real, hard work of collaboration requires us to think, to create, and to comment to the best of our ability. We all have the opportunity to improve. ­­­­

*A few collaborative apps…

Google Apps leads the collaborative office suite field. In tech terms: Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides all allow multi­person, simultaneous, real­time, cross­platform edits.  Microsoft’s added some of these collaborative capabilities to Office 365, and will add more with the launch of Office 2016. Quip integrates mobile messaging with documents and spreadsheets.

Many tools offer multi­person ­­ and multi­device ­­ collaboration. These tools help you:

Explore GrantCraft’s Harnessing Collaborative Technologies site ( for more tools and ideas.

Nicholas Miller Awarded Bruce & Jackie Cook Scholarship

DLP-2413 Twenty-six of the academic leaders and best from the Shiawassee County region are headed to the University of Michigan next fall with scholarships from the Cook Family Foundation.  Among those recognized on May 12 by UM President Mark Schlissel was Laingsburg senior Nicholas Miller, this year’s recipient of the Bruce and Jacqueline Cook Scholarship.  He is the ninth winner of this full tuition scholarship provided by the two alumni of the University.

Nick Miller is a National Merit Scholarship commended student with a 3.96 grade point average.  He is captain of the Laingsburg quiz bowl team and science olympiad team.  An avid band member, Nick is a section leader as well as a trumpet soloist in the the jazz band. His career plan is to study epidemiology at Michigan leading to graduate study in public health.

In remarks as part of the scholarship recognition dinner, President Mark Schlissel stressed that the University of Michigan is a public university with a goal of serving academically talented students from throughout the state.  He noted the strong scholarship and financial aid support the University gives to make UM the most affordable public university in the state.  He also thanked alumni like Bruce and Jackie Cook for their support, and urged recent alumni to be advocates and recruit talented students to the University.

The Cook Family Foundation was formed in 1978 and provided one scholarship that year to the University of Michigan.  The Foundation now offers a scholarship to all high school students from the Shiawassee region who are admitted to UM.  More than 500 scholarships have been granted.  The Bruce and Jacqueline Scholarship is funded separately from the Foundation.

This year’s recipients of scholarship to the University of Michigan include from Byron: Brianna Wells; from Chesaning: Trevor Andrews, Tori Turpin; from Corunna: Larissa Robinson-Cooper, Cassidy Schnepp, Scott Feldpausch; from Durand: Tristan Blackledge, Lucas Schaeffer; from Lainsgsburg: Kurt McEwan, Nicholas Miller, Antonia Vrana, Clayton Zimmerman; from New Lothrop: Spencer Wendling, Roen Wheeler; from Owosso: Brittney Crawford, Abigail Edwards, Thomas Horak, Joseph Jafri, Jordan Sowash; from Ovid-Elsie: Elizabeth Bisson, Gordon Johnson; and from Perry: Jordan Depew, Amelia Feuka, Marissa Frent, Brett Ivey, Miranda Lewis

You can learn more about the Foundation’s scholarships on the website’s scholarship tab