We proudly serve the residents of Shiawassee County and the Shiawassee River watershed.  Our communities are at their best when we come together to solve problems and improve the quality of life for all our residents. We support efforts to create diverse, healthy, and thriving communities where all children have access to the best education, the natural environment is protected and enjoyed, and all people have the opportunity and support to build joyful, meaningful lives. 

The Cook Family Foundation funds local efforts to address the needs of our under-resourced communities. We partner with Shiawassee County nonprofit organizations to support their missions and help us achieve our vision for the community.  Our nonprofit organizations are uniquely empowered to combine first-hand knowledge, volunteer effort, and effective use of assets. Consistent with our values, we seek impactful funding opportunities with honest partners to build a more inclusive, equitable community now and for the future.  

Specifically, the Foundation will make investments that:

  • Improve the expertise and effectiveness of community leaders.
  • Increase the capacity of nonprofit organizations to meet their mission.
  • Build trusting partnerships with our best, most effective nonprofits to meet community needs.
  • Address community needs by bringing together nonprofits, community groups, other funders, local and state governments, and the private sector.

We encourage all prospective applicants to contact us. We will discuss your organization’s goals, your grant request as well as the Cook Family Foundation’s mission, vision, and values.


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 in Shiawassee County or the watershed of the Shiawassee River.

We prefer to fund nonprofit organizations that are based in our community, but are open to grant requests from other organizations that serve the residents of Shiawassee County or protect the Shiawassee River watershed. Applicants should be able to demonstrate how they listen to local voices and address community needs and concerns.

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. Based on our family history, first-hand knowledge of local needs, and ongoing relationships in the communities we serve, we have a preference for grants that do any of the following: 

  • Expand the capacity of community-based nonprofits to more effectively carry out their mission and equitably serve the residents of Shiawassee County
  • Increase opportunities for community collaboration and engagement among and between local nonprofits, community groups, government, citizens, and other funders
  • Foster the Shiawassee River as a source of pride for the community and protect the land of the Shiawassee watershed to benefit the environment and promote a sustainable economy (see our land protection policy)
  • Create a community that values education and encourages the academic success of its young people
  • Strengthen families and help young children get a strong start in their physical, intellectual emotional, and social development 
  • Help care for and protect the most vulnerable members of our community
  • Promote the arts and history as strong cultural cornerstones of the community
  • Build a more inclusive community, and reduce barriers to the full participation of women in education, the economy, civic leadership, and community development 

Grant Guidance 

Applicants should have strong representation of Shiawassee County residents in their governance system or other effective ways to engage residents or community organizations in our region. 

  • Grants must be for charitable purposes and serve a public benefit. The activities of 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations typically meet this criteria.
  • Grants can be used for any purpose (staff, program, facility) that advances the mission of the applicant or addresses an identified community need.
  • Grants can be a one-time investment or annually for up to three years, but are not renewable.  
  • Preference is given to projects that involve collaborative efforts of more than one nonprofit and other public agencies. Projects with multiple stakeholders and/or a public process are eligible for additional funding to support planning and engagement activities.
  • The Foundation seeks to match grants from public sources or other donors and typically will not supply more than 50% of the funding of any proposed project. Some of our most impactful investments have been those that leverage funding from public and private sources outside Shiawassee County.
  • The proposal must have clear goals and, where possible, measurable outcomes. Grantees are expected to provide regular progress updates and a comprehensive final report.


Grant Limitations

  • We serve the residents of Shiawassee County and seek to improve the health of the Shiawassee watershed.  We direct most of our grants to this geography.
  • 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 seek to build an inclusive community, and do not provide grants to organizations that discriminate on the basis of gender, race, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • 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.


How to Apply

If you believe your grant idea is consistent with Foundation guidelines and our values, we encourage you to submit our Initial Grant Application, outlining your concept and anticipated financial need.  Within 30 days you will receive a response inviting a formal application or declining involvement.  Our grant application is available online or in other formats, assistance available upon request.  We also accept applications completed for other public or private funders.  Contact us for guidance.  

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.