Spirit of Philanthropy Award

Pontiac Community Foundation

Spirit of Philanthropy Award

Nominated by Sommer Brock, CFRE and Oakland University

Pontiac Community Foundation (PCF) is dedicated to building a brighter future for Pontiac by engaging philanthropy, leadership, and collaboration to tackle Pontiac’s most pressing issues. PCF was established in 2018 to fulfill the need in the community for a transformative, collaborative organization with the goal of connecting people and resources to advance the City of Pontiac, Michigan. PCF is dedicated to engaging thought leadership, strategic collaboration, and the spirit of ingenuity and innovation to tackle these issues. PCF’s ultimate vision is to see Pontiac as the premier place to live, work and play. Pontiac Community Foundation accomplishes its mission through the priority focus areas of: 1) Education, 2) Leadership, and 3) Quality of Life.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pontiac Community Foundation and various community partners formed the COVID Response Network, including Oakland University, Lighthouse Michigan, and a group of social entrepreneurs, ReciproCity, with a goal of building a web-based crisis response technology platform (www.mycovidresponse.org) designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. They forged a technology platform where dozens of community organizations could collaborate to meet an influx of community needs that allowed people to remain safely in their homes. The platform has made it possible to combine resources, volunteers, and efforts to deliver extensive aid to any Oakland County resident who requests it. The utility of this system has quickly become recognized by local nonprofit agencies and community leaders as an effective tool to coordinate the COVID-19 response throughout Oakland County. Resources provided include grief support, temporary housing, tutoring, assistance with digital learning, and most notably, emergency food donation and delivery.

Since inception in March, the team has been able to facilitate over 10,000 aid requests serving over 2,200 households and 7,100 individuals. The platform currently has access to a volunteer network of over 1,200 individuals that are actively engaged with activities such as delivering food, household items, etc. There are approximately 130 dedicated case managers that are handling the various needs of the individuals signing up on the platform, and we have a robust network of 125 partner organizations in the system currently. With this partnership, specifically for food delivery, the team has been able to deliver over 750,000 meals to at-risk populations.

In addition to their support and leadership with the COVID Response Network, PCF has provided the following over the last few years:

  • Provided mini-grants to nonprofits focused us supporting literacy efforts for elementary-aged children in the community, restoring a baseball field and seating at a local park, and expanding a local art experience program to equip those battling physical disabilities
  • Granted scholarships for two Pontiac young professionals to participate in Leadership Oakland
  • Hosted four community clean-ups at a local park and overseeing the Friends of the Pontiac Parks Fund for continuous improvements at multiple city parks
  • Planned two 5K/walks to benefit the elderly and bring awareness to mental health initiatives
  • Guided multiple businesses into the city and help several others remain through our collaboration
  • Partnered with Oakland Christian School to help provide a grant for 10 students to attend the school
  • Provided mini-grants to 10 small businesses in Pontiac struggling through the pandemic

Additionally, Pontiac Community Foundation is working on various initiatives including the creation of the Center for Pontiac Entrepreneurship, including supporting small business training courses and serving as fiscal sponsor for Pontiac SOUP, a micro-granting event that focuses on supporting creative projects in the community, along with a variety of projects focused on collaboration.