Consumers Energy Contributes $71,000 to Northwest Michigan “Great Start” Programs

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L to R: Robert Gluszewski (Consumers Energy), Mary Manner (Traverse Bay/Manistee GSC), Maureen Hollocker (Charlevoix-Emmet GSC), Michael Acosta (Wexford/Missaukee GSC) and Timotey Petrosky (Consumers Energy).

Four northern Michigan community organizations focused on the importance of early childhood development as an essential ingredient for a successful future are receiving $71,000 in support from Consumers Energy.

“The research is clear: Support for early childhood programs – promoting reading, social skills and ready-to-learn activities – is one of the best investments we can make in our state’s future,” said David G. Mengebier, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “Caring for our kids is an essential part of caring for the communities we serve. That’s our promise to Michigan.”

The grants were announced as part of the Great Start, Great Futures Summit in Traverse City, which attracted more than 150 community leaders from the region. The grants come from a donor-advised fund established by Consumers Energy’s parent company, CMS Energy, and held by the United Way of Jackson County. Learn more about giving Michigan kids a Great Start.

Consumers Energy will make the following grants from its donor advised fund to support these early childhood programs: 

  • $30,000 to Great Start Traverse Bay/Manistee for childcare scholarships
  • $20,000 to Great Start Wexford/Missaukee for a parent education program
  • $11,000 to Great Start Collaborative of Cheboygan, Otsego and Presque Isle for preschool scholarships
  • $10,000 to Great Start Collaborative of Charlevoix, Emmet and Northern Antrim Counties for childcare scholarships and a parent education program

Since 2008, Consumers Energy has provided $1.6 million in grants supporting early childhood programs. The announcement is part of the company’s nearly $500,000 in support this year for similar programs across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Mary Manner, coordinator of Great Start Traverse Bay/Manistee, said the grants are deeply appreciated by each of the groups.

“A recent study commissioned for our area found investing in early childhood is a key strategy for achieving long term economic success,” Manner said. “There is a clear path to a brighter economic future, and it depends on how we raise our youngest children.”

These four Great Start collaboratives of northwest lower Michigan have been working together for several years on common, strategic goals which include increasing access to quality childcare and early education and expanding parent education opportunities for all families.  The strong partnership has led to sharing resources, exchanging information at all levels, and adopting a regional communications plan based on a simple motto: “Strong families, thriving communities begin with a Great Start.”  Together they are working to make Michigan a great place for families and businesses to grow and thrive.

The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy.  It provides funding for a variety of areas including education, community, civic and cultural development, social services, the environment, and emerging issues.   For more information about the Consumers Energy Foundation and its support of America’s Promise, visit our website at

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