Berrien Community Foundation

Confirmed in Compliance with National Standards

for U.S. Community Foundations

Acorn About the Foundation


2900 South State Street, Suite 2 East
St. Joseph, MI 49085
Phone: 269.983.3486
Fax: 269.983.4939

Hours:  8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. M-F

Appointments are much appreciated

Foundation Staff


Lisa Cripps-Downey, President, leads our team of professional staff members who carry out activities on behalf of our communities to achieve the Foundation's mission to enhance the quality of life and build a spirit of community in Berrien County. She  brings 24+ years of experience in various positions at nonprofit and for profit organizations. She was the Executive Director of the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, having been in that position since 2003. The Berrien Community Foundation will provide grant administration services to the Upton Foundation beginning in September. Starting in 2005 she was the Director of Business Innovation for the United Way of Southwest Michigan and part of its senior leadership team. From 1999-2001 she was the Berrien Community Foundationís Program Director. Prior to that she was a Business Strategist with Marketing Partners for four years.  Cripps-Downey holds a BA in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Michigan. She is presently pursuing a Masterís Degree in Organizational Leadership. She is active as a volunteer with the Twin City Players, Girls on the Run, Lakeshore Public Schools, and various other organizations. Lisa focuses on fund development, donor services, community leadership, finance/investments, and media relations. She is also responsible for overall operations and supervises the grant/scholarship/TEAM areas.


Sandra Tardi, CPA, was appointed Finance/Program Director in May 2013. She has a B.A. degree in Psychology and an Illinois CPA certification.  She has 28 years experience in various positions (e.g., senior accountant) in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors with past work with C & C Power, the Salvation Army, and the National Catholic Society of Foresters, among others. Sandy has several responsibilities in the Foundation's finance, grant, and scholarship areas. 


Our part-time Finance/Program Assistant, Adrienne Glisson, completes the team. She joined the Foundation on July 2, 2013 and has experience in property management and as an administrative assistant.  She is the TEAM Coordinator for our youth advisory committee, along with other responsibilities. We believe our donors, volunteers, grantees, and community partners will greatly appreciate this configuration of our team. The Foundation also relies heavily on about 300 volunteers who serve as Board Trustees, Members, TEAM members, and  committees members.



Lisa Cripps-Downey

ext. 1 or 983-3486

Contact for

Gifts, Funds, & Donor Services

Community Leadership Initiatives

Finance & Investments

Media Relations

General Information























Sandra J. Tardi, CPA
Finance/Program Director

ext. 3

Contact for

Grant Requests

Scholarship Requests







The Berrien Community Foundation was established in 1952 by William Vawter and a group of concerned business people, much like the rest of the community foundation movement that started in the Midwest. The Foundation is an innovative means by which concerned citizens could put charitable dollars to work for the benefit of Berrien County residents.


The Foundation is a union of numerous gifts, bequests, and other contributions that form endowments and other funds. The spendable portion of the Foundation's endowments is used to make grants to qualified agencies and institutions serving the residents of Berrien County. Grants from donor advised funds may be distributed anywhere in the United States. The Foundation responds to emerging community needs by funding programs that enhance the quality of life. Since 1952, the philanthropic dollars committed to the Foundation have touched every community in Berrien County.


The Foundation also continues to offer a wide variety of charitable giving opportunities that can help any concerned individual invest in the future of our area and beyond. From totally undesignated funds to organizational funds (e.g., nonprofits, schools) to personalized donor advised funds, prospective donors can shape gift agreements to meet both their financial objectives and charitable aspirations. For more information about the role the Community Foundation can play as a partner in your philanthropy, please call the Foundation office at 269-983-3486. Our hours are 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, appointments much appreciated.


Organizational Governance and Financial Activities Information


The Foundation strives to be as transparent as possible, while honoring donor privacy where needed. The following information is related to the Foundation's governance and financial activities. For additional information on any of these items, please contact Lisa Cripps-Downey, President, 269-983-3486 or

To view, print, and/or download a copy of any of the items, click on the link below.

Audited Financial Statements for 2012  (pdf)

These statements cover the Foundation's financial activities from January 1-December 31, 2012. The unqualified opinion letter provided by our auditors (best possible), Schaffer & Layher, LLP, the statement of financial position, and the statement of  financial activities are included.

990 for Year Ending 2012 (pdf)

This is the current federal tax return provided to the IRS.

Articles of Incorporation (pdf)

Bylaws (pdf)

These are the governance documents.

Conflicts of Interest Policy (pdf)

1023/1024 Application Equivalent (pdf)

Recently the IRS required that a nonprofit organization make available its original application (i.e., 1023/1024) for nonprofit status. When the Foundation went through this process in the 1950s, this form didn't exist. We have provided the equivalent supplied to the Foundation by the IRS when we made this request. 

Celebrating 60 Years (link to report or click below)


A Snapshot of Developments in 2013

  • Building permanent endowments and other funds, providing a broad range of flexible and cost-effective donor services (293 and growing no. of funds, Gifts of $6.6 million in 2013, a record in our history), and adding several members to our Legacy Society. 
  • Investing and managing funds prudently and professionally ($33+ million in assets under management, highest in our history), reaching out to professional advisors through educational services, and providing financial services for the Southwestern Michigan Estate Planning Council
  • Providing grants to support a broad range of projects and programs with an emphasis on building a spirit of community/arts & culture, nurturing our children, and youth development and leadership ($3.9 million in 2013, highest in our history).  
  • Serving as a leader, catalyst, and resource for our communities via many collaborations including the 2900 Lakeview/PACE project, 2-1-1, Coalition of Community Funders, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry Project, Hospice at Home's Residence Project, Lakeland's community room, counseling room at the cancer center, and emergency rooms at Niles and Watervliet, Lake Michigan College's Leadership Academy, and Sustaining the Future:  The Planned Giving Education Program of Berrien County, among others.