October 2016 - The M&M Area Community Foundation is working to inspire people and impact lives. The Foundation has recently finalized and approved a three year strategic plan to expand relationships, strengthen partnerships, and re-energize its presence in its geographical mission area.
How, you might ask? With “boots on the ground.” The plan highlights a step-by-step process of expanded education and awareness, growth in partnerships, and a more effective means to measure outcomes to insure quality of service and maintenance of foundation assets and endowments. The plan also includes metrics to help guarantee successful growth and the flexibility to adapt as communities and economies change.
“Our primary objective is to serve the citizens of Marinette and Menominee Counties,” said Paula Gruszynski, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “I appreciate the willingness of the Board to take a leadership role in the development of this plan and their commitment to carry it through. It is what every successful organization needs to do to maintain mission integrity, ensure stability and growth, and be relevant,” she concluded.
So, what is a community foundation, and why do they exist? A community foundation is a tax exempt, non-profit, publicly supported philanthropic organization with the long term goal of building permanent, named funds, for the broad-based public benefit of the residents in a given area. Community foundations typically carry out the same broad mission of building permanent endowments to be granted to other non-profits and sometimes, specific projects in the area based on need, topic and timing. The endowments supply an annual percentage of income that is to be granted out during each specific calendar year.
“A community foundation, in my opinion, is an umbrella organization that is tasked with strengthening not only the community itself, but other non-profits that serve it,” said Lisa Fernstrum, MMACF Board President.
Foundations are governed by a Board of Directors of community leaders and are administered by a professional staff that oversees the funds, generation of new funds, and distribution of each funds’ growth. The MMACF board consists of thirteen community leaders: Lisa Fernstrum, President; Barb Peterson, Vice President; Sue Ellie, Treasurer; Michele Biehl, Secretary; Marc Jamo, Executive Committee At Large; Todd Schloegel, Dan Ward, Cindy Boyle, Lauren Clausen, Dan Hannigan, Jaden Russell, Josh Jones and Chris Behrend. Current administration includes: Paula Gruszynski, Executive Director; Patrice Sessler, Finance and Program Director; and Kerri Weigal, Administrative Assistant.
The mission of the M&M Area Community Foundation is to inspire people to provide lasting legacies that enrich our communities. “We cannot predict the future but we can prepare for it. If we truly want to make our communities a better place, we need to do it through collaboration. It’s the ripple effect. One small donation of time or treasure can grow and leave a lasting impact,” said Gruszynski.
Gruszynski truly has her “boots on the ground.” She is currently strengthening and expanding partnerships throughout Marinette and Menominee Counties. Expansion of community partners through business networking and volunteer generation has also allowed the Foundation to start to better utilize resources available to them.
This “all hands on deck” approach leads Gruzynski to sit down with business leaders, networking groups, as well as individuals to spread the word about the Foundation’s mission, various ways to give, as well as grants that may be available.
The Foundation is proud of the work that has been done so far and hopes to gain momentum throughout this three year strategic plan cycle. They encourage people to contact the Foundation to learn how they can help make this area a place people want to call home!