Southwest Michigan Cares Fund raises nearly $900,000 for crisis efforts

As the COVID-19 crisis was first developing earlier this year, local funders and businesses came together to create the Southwest Michigan Cares Fund to aid nonprofits in their work meeting the basic needs of residents during this time as well as to address the ongoing financial impact of the crisis on nonprofits. The initial round of $250,000 raised was announced on March 25. As of May 1, the amount raised reached nearly $900,000. The most recent gift, of $100,000, came from the Schalon Foundation.

“Families in our community are struggling,” said Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey. “Individuals, businesses and foundations are responding mightily to that need. They are stepping up in a powerful way and investing in the long-term future of our region through The Southwest Michigan Cares Fund. Whether it is a gift of five dollars or five thousand, people are doing what they can to help their neighbors and I have been truly overwhelmed by the generosity”

“It’s no surprise—given their past investments in this community—that the leaders who have donated to the Southwest Michigan Cares Fund have stepped up to contribute such a sizable amount in a short time,” said Anna Murphy, President and CEO of United Way of Southwest Michigan. “All of us in Southwest Michigan are grateful to be part of a region where so many care as deeply as they do for one another’s well-being and the common good.”

Berrien Community Foundation, Hanson Family Foundation, Spectrum Health Lakeland, United Way of Southwest Michigan, and Whirlpool Corporation each pledged $50,000 in the initial round. Since that time, The Felland Foundation Fund and The Schalon Foundation each contributed $100,000 to the fund. Other major funders at that time included the AEP Foundation, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, Meijer, Consumers Energy Foundation, and individual donors.

The second round of funding came from:

  • 1st Source Bank
  • AEP
  • Berrien Community Foundation
  • Consumers Energy
  • Entergy
  • Felland Foundation Fund
  • Hanson Family Foundation
  • Hirsch-Schwartz Foundation
  • Horizon Bank
  • Hunter Foundation
  • Martin’s Super Markets
  • McLoughlin Family Foundation
  • Meijer
  • Michigan Gas Utilities/WPS Foundation
  • Michigan Gateway Foundation
  • Midwest Energy & Communications
  • SEMCO Energy
  • Schalon Foundation
  • South Haven Community Foundation
  • Spectrum Health Lakeland
  • Timken Foundation of Canton
  • United Way of Southwest Michigan
  • Whirlpool Corporation
  • The Wood Foundation
  • Yeager Family Foundation
  • Anonymous donors
  • Individual donors

The funders meet remotely with nonprofits to assess the changing situation and quickly make funding available to address community needs associated with the outbreak.

Disbursements will be made in two phases: emergency response and long-term recovery. Disbursements in the first and current phase have been made to nonprofits in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties for food, cleaning and hygiene supplies, baby items, and Personal Protection Equipment. Once the tri-county area enters into the second long-term recovery phase, the fund will begin making disbursements for rent/mortgage and utilities assistance.

Berrien Community Foundation and United Way of Southwest Michigan have teamed up to provide information about the fund, how to donate to the fund, and for nonprofits seeking funding at