Consumers Energy Awards $1.25 Million in Grants for Community Projects

David Mengebier, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation, announced the grants at a news conference in Lansing on Tuesday. Looking on are Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Carolyn Bloodworth, director of corporate giving for Consumers Energy. Photo by Harry Sabourin

A sparkling new 12-field sports complex in Rockford, renovation of a historic theater in downtown Traverse City and restoration of a dilapidated city park in Saginaw. Those are just some of the projects around the state that will get a big boost thanks to the Consumers Energy Foundation awarding $1.25 million in grants to 10 community projects as part of the utility’s 125th anniversary celebration on Tuesday.

“Michigan families and businesses have been counting on our company and its employees to keep the lights on and their homes warm since 1886,” said David Mengebier, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We’re making these grants to thank our customers for the privilege of serving them for 125 years.” 

The grants were announced at a Lansing news conference flanked by community leaders, including state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. Mengebier said the foundation asked nonprofit leaders in the 10 communities to evaluate local needs and identify projects important to their community.

“We know that each community is different and has its own needs and priorities,” he said. “We relied on the local leaders to tell us what’s important to the people of their communities and where support from the Consumers Energy Foundation could make a real difference. We’re excited about each of these projects and how they’re going to improve the quality of life in each community.”

To encourage local support for the projects, the 125th anniversary grants are matching grants. That means when the projects raise $125,000 in other contributions, the Consumers Energy Foundation will match that amount with its anniversary grants.

“We expect the 125th anniversary grants from the Consumers Energy Foundation will create total support of $2.5 million for these projects,” Mengebier said. “The nonprofit leaders in these communities already are working to secure that support and we’re confident they’ll all reach that goal.

“I’m looking forward to traveling to these communities next year to deliver the $125,000 checks from the Consumers Energy Foundation and to celebrate the ongoing success of these projects.”

The 10 projects selected for the $125,000 grants are:

  • Bay City– The Bay Commitment College Resource Center, which helps Bay County students and their parents apply for college and for financial assistance. The grant will support the resource center’s operations.
  • Flint–Community Foundation of Greater Flint. The grant supports the Flint/Genesee County Green and Healthy Homes Initiative and will repair or replace the roofs of homes of low-income families.
  • Grand Rapids– The West Michigan Sports Commission. The grant supports the construction of a 12-field sports complex in Rockford.
  • Jackson– The Partnership Park Neighborhood Planning Project. The grant supports educational system improvements in the city of Jackson.
  • Kalamazoo– The Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity. The grant supports the organization’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which targets distressed neighborhoods.
  • Lansing– The Michigan Nonprofit Association. The grant supports the development of the Nonprofit Center at the Armory.
  • Muskegon– The Community Foundation of Muskegon County. The grant supports the Russell Block Market program, which fosters opportunities for entrepreneurs to develop sustainable retail businesses in downtown Muskegon.
  • Saginaw– The Saginaw Community Foundation. The grant supports the restoration of the city’s Deindorfer Woods Park.
  • Pontiac– The Lighthouse of Oakland County. The grant supports the renovation of the headquarters for the organization, which helps struggling families move to self- sufficiency and independence.
  • Traverse City – The Traverse City Film Festival. The grant supports the group’s effort to renovate the exterior of the historic State Theatre in downtown Traverse City.

— Tom Lambert