Foundation History


In December of 1993, a steering committee met to discuss the feasibility of establishing a community foundation in Baraga County.  Those present at that meeting were looking for a vehicle for philanthropy which would enhance the quality of life for local people.  At the same time they wanted to address current and emerging needs in the County.

A consensus was reached that it was feasible for this county to establish a community foundation, and very timely, since the Kellogg Foundation was offering a one million dollar challenge grant to each new Community Foundation established in Upper Peninsula counties. For every two dollars of endowment monies pledged and received, Kellogg would match the gift with a dollar. This 1 for 2 match expired on April 1, l998.

In preparing for the challenge grant proposal, a county-wide needs assessment was conducted.  Arising from that assessment, seven endowment funds were deemed appropriate to establish.  Those funds were community development, cultural arts, education, resource conservation, preservation and beautification, health and human services, operations and youth development.

Of course, with any challenge grant there are conditions.  The community of Baraga County had to raise at least $350,000 to receive $175,000 from the Kellogg Foundation.  All Kellogg Challenge grant matching monies were to be placed in a permanently endowed, youth field-of-interest fund. Kellogg’s purpose in offering this challenge grant was to act as a catalyst promoting youth leadership, volunteerism and philanthropy.

A Board of Trustees consisting of 2l members representing Baraga County and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community was seated on September 28, l994.  Among these volunteers were Elaine Castilla, Jim Krenek, Charles Monson, Jane LeClaire, Curtis Menard, Walt Powers, Dr. Harold Ripple, Anita Sikorsky, Ken Hammerberg and others.  In December, the Foundation received its 501(c)(3) status, which means the legal status to begin soliciting funds to build the various endowments which would address the needs of Baraga County, including the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community within its borders.

Near the deadline for the Kellogg Match, the Baraga County Community Foundation had not reached the goal for fundraising to receive the Kellogg matching monies.  A letter was written to the Keweenaw Bay Tribal Council asking the Tribe for help.  Council members such as Wayne Schwartz, Walter Powers, John Seppanen, Fred and Brad Dakota, as well as others, responded to the request by establishing a $100,000 endowment fund with the Foundation in the name of the Tribe, thus securing the Kellogg matching dollars for the County.  To date, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tri-level Fund; the Health & Human Services Endowment portion, Unrestricted Endowment and the Operating Endowment portions of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Endowment, in interest and dividends totals approximately $100,000, with grants awarded back to the Tribal community from this and other Foundation endowments.

Next, members of the promotion committee developed an informational brochure, the Foundation needed its own office in order to more effectively serve the needs of donors, and the Foundation needed a part time executive director.  Today, the Village of Baraga donates office space to house the Foundation and it has its first full time employee in accordance with new federal oversight regulations, to oversee the operations and administrations of its 46 endowments.  This Executive Director is employed by a Board of Directors who are volunteers that are representative of the social, economic, racial, religious, and age groups in the County.  In this manner, the Community Foundation is managed by the people of Baraga County through its Board of Directors and its various oversight committees.

Members of the Board of Trustees serve on the finance and executive committees.  They work closely with the Superior National Bank Trust Department to monitor the investment management and strict policy guidelines as to how endowment monies are to be safely invested for long term growth.