The Barry Community Foundation’s mission is to serve as a leader, catalyst and resource to improve the lives of people in the Barry County.
Foundation Executive Director Bonnie Gettys and Leadership Barry County Director Sarah Alden have been thinking about how to invest foundation money in a way that will most benefit the people of Barry County and they’re hoping you will help them find it.
“We have some financial resources to share, but we want to share them in the best way,” Gettys said.
Gettys and Alden explained the process to village and township officials at a Vision Barry County meeting Tuesday. The first of three steps, developing a survey asking residents where best to spend the funding, is underway. The hope is to deliver the survey, one way or another, to every household in the county.
The survey has six categories based on gaps in current efforts to address them; the environment, housing, infrastructure, broadband access, economy and prosperity and ‘other.’ Respondents are asked to rate the level of importance to them as ‘not important’, ‘somewhat important’ or ‘highly important.’
With the survey results in hand, they will move on to step two; a community meeting to get more ideas and information from the public, likely with help from a professional facilitator. The Center of Michigan has knowledge and technology for such meetings, and can, “keep everything on point so everyone can get a chance to talk and keep it going,” Alden said.
Using all of the information gathered, step three is to develop grants based on the highest community need or want, issue requests for proposals and invest in it, Gettys said.
“If its affordable housing, we could do low interest loans for housing,” she said as an example.
“It’s all good information,” Alden said, “but we’ll see a difference in the municipalities’ responses.”
“This is good for us and good for you,” Gettys told the officials at the Visioning meeting. “It helps you understand what your constituents want.”
*This article was amended to correct Sarah Alden's title.