Pontiac Funders Collaborative Draws $10M to Drive Economic Growth

The Pontiac Funders Collaborative — an initiative of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan that works to improve the quality of life in Pontiac through positive, community-driven change — announced it has invested more than $5 million since its inception in 2020.
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The Pontiac Funders Collaborative will have invested $10M in the community by 2026. // Photo courtesy of Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

The Pontiac Funders Collaborative — an initiative of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan that works to improve the quality of life in Pontiac through positive, community-driven change — announced it has invested more than $5 million since its inception in 2020.

Building on this momentum, funders have committed more than $5 million more during the next three years and welcomed PNC Bank to their ranks.

The Pontiac Funders Collaborative is a group of regional funders working in close partnership with nonprofit organizations, local leaders, and the government in Pontiac to drive economic growth and revitalization in the city. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan manages the fund and convenes its collaborators.

The collaborative will continue its role as community convener and has committed nearly $5.4 million more to support a second, three-year phase from 2023 through 2025. During its initial phase between 2020 and 2022, the Pontiac Funders Collaborative invested more than $5 million in Pontiac organizations. This included $3.9 million in grants to 35 organizations and $1.2 million for consultant and technical assistance support.

The Pontiac Funders Collaborative’s funding strategy is informed by an 11-member Community Advisory Council and includes people who are not usually at the decision-making table.

“For the past three years, the Pontiac Funders Collaborative has supported organizations citywide with grants and technical assistance to strengthen their capacity to meet the needs of residents and create positive social and economic change,” says Sonia Plata, co-chair of Pontiac Funders Collaborative Advisory Council and Flagstar Bank Foundation director.

“This investment, coupled with the community’s resources and knowledge, has had a profound impact toward building a brighter, more prosperous future for Pontiac after decades of systemic disinvestment and years of emergency management.”

The collaborative has detailed the scope and impact of the initial phase of its work in its 2020-2022 Impact Report. The report demonstrates how the effort has created a more connected cross-sector network, stronger organizations and collaborations, and more public and private investment and partnerships in the city.

The nine existing members of the Pontiac Funders Collaborative — which include Ballmer Group, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Flagstar Bank Foundation, General Motors Co., the New Economy Initiative, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Tauber Family Foundation, William Davidson Foundation, and Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation — have all recommitted to the effort and welcome the collaborative’s newest member, PNC Bank.

“The impact of the Pontiac Funders Collaborative in this under-resourced community cannot be overstated,” says Virginia Romano, co-chair of Pontiac Funders Collaborative Advisory Council and CEO of the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation. “The investment has helped catalyze existing community resources and people power to create a more vibrant economic and social fabric in the city.”

Lessons learned during the Pontiac Funders Collaborative’s initial phase will inform its second phase. Future investments will support:

Capacity building for nonprofits: Support to strengthen internal capacity and professional development while also encouraging collaboration and a shared vision among small and midsize nonprofits in Pontiac.

Storytelling and communications: Support for efforts that create accessible and relevant channels of communication about innovation, entrepreneurship, community, and growth in Pontiac.

Collective impact: Support for the creation of a cross-sector collaborative to bring partners together around shared outcomes for the community.

Entrepreneurship and workforce development: Support for a) business service providers who serve local entrepreneurs and b) initiatives that develop residents’ skills and connect them to quality jobs.

Capstone projects: Support for the implementation of projects with tangible, system-wide community benefits that leverage other funding sources.

“As a regional organization, the Community Foundation has the unique ability to convene funders that see Pontiac’s potential as an economic and cultural engine in our area,” says Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan President Richard (Ric) DeVore. “In turn, the Pontiac Funders Collaborative can make strategic investments that support nonprofit organizations, local leaders, the government and entrepreneurs in the city working to transform that potential into reality.”