The Cook Family Foundation invests in community organizations that are committed to positive change, both within Shiawassee County and within the organization itself.  We make grants to community institutions that desire to better serve the residents of Shiawassee County through new activities, improved programs, or collaborative initiatives. Strong preference is given to grants that are part of an organizational self-improvement plan, such as the Foundation’s Nonprofit Capacity Development Program (click here).  Rather than just make a gift of financial resources, the Cook Family Foundation seeks to invest in the mission, and the future, of an organization.

We encourage all prospective applicants to contact us prior to submitting a full proposal.  We will discuss your organization’s goals as well as the Cook Family Foundation’s interest in your proposed project.  You may also submit a one-page letter of interest if you prefer.  All applications will be considered without bias to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.

Grant Criteria

The Cook Family Foundation commits funding to projects that strengthen community institutions, extend their mission, or enable their growth.  Grant requests should consider the following four questions:

  • Will the grant request fund an activity central to the adopted mission of an organization and does the grant implement the organization’s strategic plan?
  • Will the grant enable an organization to expand its programs, the number of people served, membership, volunteers, public support, and/or financial base?
  • Does the organization have a plan in place to sustain the new growth or make permanent new changes after grant funds are expended?
  • Is the grant request part of a comprehensive and long-term financial strategy that leverages additional resources, involves grants or donations from other sources, and/or is matched by investment of the organization itself?

Grants Limited to Shiawassee County and the Shiawassee River Watershed

  • The Foundation focuses its grant making on Shiawassee County and only considers grants that serve the residents of Shiawassee County.  Grants for environmental purposes are made to protect the natural areas defined by the watershed of the Shiawassee River
  • We prefer to fund nonprofit organizations that are based in our community; at a minimum, applicants should have strong representation of Shiawassee County residents in their governance system.
  • To honor the Foundation’s legacy, the only grants made outside of Shiawassee County are to the University of Michigan and the Hayo-Went-Ha Camps of the State Y of Michigan.

Types of Grants

Our goal is to help initiate change and growth within an organization, and as such the Foundation is willing to provide financial support for programs, facilities, equipment, staffing, professional development, contracted services, or other tools for positive change.  In order to carry out our mission and assist a variety of good causes, we cannot provide on-going operational support to organizations.

Grant Amounts

The Foundation typically makes grants of between $5,000 and $50,000. Sometimes we have made effective grants for smaller amounts, and on a few occasions we have made larger grants for very promising and significant endeavors.  We prefer one-time grants, but have also made multi-year commitments to help initiate projects.  If your proposal falls outside of our typical grant-making history, please contact us in advance of submitting your proposal so we can discuss your organization’s needs.

Areas of Interest

The Cook Family Foundation does not seek to promote any particular cause or address only certain concerns.  Rather, we desire to help community organizations grow and be successful in the mission they have set for themselves. We are open to funding in a wide variety of issue areas.  We have adopted six goals for our work with community partners:

  • Encourage the highest level of academic success for our community’s young people
  • Expand the capacity of community-based nonprofits to more effectively carry out their mission and serve the residents of Shiawassee County
  • Foster the Shiawassee River as a source of pride for the community
  • Promote the arts and history as strong cultural cornerstones of the community
  • Help care for and protect the most vulnerable members of our community
  • Increase opportunities for community collaboration and engagement among and between local nonprofits, arts organizations, government, students, and citizens  (click here to view our Collaborative Efforts page)

Grant Limitations

  • Grants must be for charitable purposes and serve a public benefit.  The activities of 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations typically meet this criteria.
  •  With the exception of scholarships to education institutions, we do not give grants to individuals.
  • We do not fund direct lobbying activities or political campaigns, and we uphold federal law that prohibits the expenditure of nonprofit funds for political campaigns (electioneering).
  • We do not give grants for religious purposes.  The Foundation does recognize the role faith-based organizations play in addressing human service needs in our local communities.  We will consider funding secular programs and activities sponsored by faith-based organizations when participation in those activities is in no way based on religious belief nor requires participation in religious activities (proselytization).  We may request additional documentation and verification on the part of such applicants to ensure this policy is upheld.

Grant Application Deadlines

The Cook Family Foundation accepts grant applications throughout the year and reviews those applications at least twice a year.  First consideration will be given to grant applications submitted by April 1.  Applications for the end of the year should be made no later than November 1.  The Foundation establishes a total annual grant budget in January for that year and addresses applications on a first-come, first-served basis within that budget.

How to Apply

If you believe your grant idea is consistent with Foundation guidelines and philosophies, we encourage you to submit a one-to-two page Letter of interest (email is acceptable), outlining your concept and anticipated financial need.  Within 30 days you will receive a response inviting a formal application or declining involvement.

Cook Family Foundation Grant Application