Lowell Area Community Fund
The Lowell Area Community Fund gives grants to organizations that assist in fulfilling its mission to assure community cooperation and participation that supports a healthy, dynamic community. The fund places an emphasis on broad educational initiatives, but also supports initiatives in the areas of arts & culture, community development, environment, health, human service, and recreation in the Lowell area. The Lowell area is currently defined as the City of Lowell, the Township of Lowell, and the Township of Vergennes.
History of the Fund
In May of 1996, Harold J. Englehardt's will set into motion a legacy that will benefit the Lowell area community in perpetuity. Known as a low-key, humble man who lived his life simply and without fanfare, Mr. Englehardt was a self-made millionaire who chose to give back to the community he loved so well. Upon his death, the Lowell Area Community Fund (LACF) was created through a $12.7 million philanthropic bequest from Mr. Englehardt.
The LACF was set up to be a donor advised fund under the auspices of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. The income produced by the fund is to be used, according to the fund agreement, to promote and stimulate a strong sense of community. It was Mr. Englehardt's wish to make the Lowell area a better place for all.
The intent of Mr. Englehardt's gift to the community is stipulated in the fund agreement. Of particular concern to Mr. Englehardt and his wife, Mildred, was quality education. Although education was named as a definite priority, he listed other causes as well. His overall vision for this fund was to encourage a healthy community by supporting educational and scholarship programs, the arts and culture, economic development, the natural environment, health, human services and recreation.
Although the seed money for the fund originated from a private source, the Advisory Committee of the Lowell Area Community Fund is charged through Mr. Englehardt's fund agreement to act upon grant applications with the good of the community in mind. The fund is able to accept other bequests and donations from community members who have a like-minded interest in giving back to the Lowell area community. In fact, the reason the fund does not bear his name is that his interest was to have the fund bear the name of the community which both supports and benefits from it.
Biography of Harold J. Englehardt
Harold J. Englehardt lived in Lowell, Michigan for most of his life. He was born the youngest of five children in Frankenmuth on December 13, 1900. After briefly attending Ferris State College and working at a bank in Merrill, Michigan, Harold traveled to Lowell in 1922 to accept a bank cashier's position at the Lowell State Bank.
The stock market crash closed the bank in 1929. Harold purchased the Lowell Granite Company in 1930, but he also went to work to raise capital and organize investors for a new bank. He was successful, and in 1934 it opened under the name "State Savings Bank." Harold continued to operate his business for many years while lending his expertise to the bank as a board member. In 1960 he accepted the position of bank president, and eventually sold the Lowell Granite Company to a long-time employee.
Harold's concern for the well being of the community extended to helping stimulate commerce in business and agriculture, and providing funds for several local capital improvement programs. During his long and successful banking career, he helped many people achieve their dreams of home ownership. If someone didn't have a home, Harold at least saw to it that they had food. During the Great Depression, he sent many homeless individuals to Lou Racine's restaurant for a hot meal, paying the bill weekly.
In his personal life, Harold was devoted to his wife, Mildred. The couple did not have children.
Mr. and Mrs. Englehardt both had a special interest in quality education. Of all areas supported by the Lowell Area Community Fund, Mr. Englehardt most ardently supported education. The Englehardts established several scholarship opportunities for Lowell area students. They also donated $380,000 toward the new Lowell library, which was named in their honor in 1997.
Harold Englehardt died in April 1997 at the age of 96.
Types of Grants
Examples are projects that the Lowell Area Community Fund supports are projects that:
Encourage and promote community involvement
Represent an innovative, start-up effort
Obtain the necessary additional funding to implement and maintain the project
Yield substantial community benefit
Have non-profit, 501(c)(3) status
Serve a broad segment of the community
Promote cooperation among agencies
Address needs of the Lowell area
Address quality of life issues
Promote civic and community pride
Strengthen or improve agency self-sufficiency or efficiency
While the Lowell Area Community Fund encourages creative and innovative projects, it generally does not support:
Political projects, or those that are primarily cause-related
Religious organizations for religious purposes
Apply for a Grant
Grant applications are accepted three times a year on the third Friday of April, August, and December. Three times annually, grant applications are reviewed by the Advisory Committee of the Lowell Area Community Fund. Currently, more than $600,000 is available each year for use in the Lowell area!
The Lowell Community Fund has given grants to the following organizations:
- Camp Fire USA
- Christ the King School
- Christian Caregiver Relief (CCR) – Lowell Chapter
- Fallasburg Historical Society
- First Congregational Church
- Flat River Outreach Ministries
- Gilda's Club Grand Rapids Lowell Program
- Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association
- Grand Valley American Indian Lodge
- Greater Lowell Chamber Foundation
- Habitat for Humanity
- Impact Church
- Kent County Agricultural Preservation Board
- Kent County Parks Department
- Kent County Youth Agricultural Association (Youth Fair)
- Kent MSU Extension
- Land Conservancy of West Michigan
- Lowell Amateur Radio Club
- Lowell Area Arts Council
- Lowell Area Historical Society
- Lowell Area Recreation Authority
- Lowell Area Schools
- Lowell Area Schools Education Foundation
- Lowell Charter Township
- Lowell Community Wellness
- Lowell Friends of the Library
- City of Lowell
- Lowell-Alto 4-H Friends Club
- North Country Trail Association
- Rockford Ambulance
- Senior Neighbors
- St. Mary Catholic Church
- Vergennes Township
- West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition
Fund Advisory Committee
Jeff Bunn, representing Vergennes Township
John Darling, representing the Englehardt Family
Ray Duimstra, Senior Vice President, Mercantile Bank
Amy Pallo, Principal, Lowell High School
Gregory Pratt, Superintendent, Lowell Area Schools
Misty McClure-Anderson, representing Lowell Township