People Fund Grants

Give Locally and Win $100: The People Fund has raised more than $4.7 million for non-profit projects since 1999. Round your bill up to the nearest dollar (an average of 50 cents per month) to help your local community and get rewarded.

About the Program

Great Lakes Energy members help to enhance the quality of life for people in our communities through the People Fund. Bills of participating members are “rounded up” to the next dollar amount and grants are awarded to non-profit organizations for charitable activities throughout our service area. Grants are awarded by three independent Boards of Directors representing three geographical regions – south, central and north. There are no overhead costs – 100 percent of the money collected is returned to our communities. 

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Win $100

All contributors are entered into two annual random drawings where we give away six $100 bill credits. This is our small way of saying “thanks” to every GLE member who supports the People Fund.

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How are Grants Invested?

In order to have the greatest impact on people within the GLE service area, the People Fund will generally invest funds in project or activities that:

  • Are one-time in nature rather than ongoing or continuous.
  • Benefit a large number of people.
  • Leverage funds from other sources.
  • Distribute funds to individuals or families in crisis.
  • Help programs increase their capacity to deliver services.

For more information please download the PEOPLE FUND 2023 ANNUAL REPORT

See 2024 Grant Recipients

For the first grant cycle of 2024, the People Fund’s north region board awarded 21 grants totaling $69,543.70. The grants awarded include:

  • Advance Board of Commerce, Boyne City: $1,000 for a laptop and copy/printer/fax/scanner.
  • Beaver Island Historical Society, Beaver Island: $5,000 for Maritime Preservation: Saving a Great Lakes Fish Tug at the Beaver Island Marine Museum. 
  • Blue Lake Township Fire Department, Kalkaska: $5,000 for sirens, radios, and lights for an off-road snowmobile and side-by-side rescue vehicle.
  • Boyne Arts Collective, Boyne City: $1,000 for a tent and assets for the Stroll the Streets Community Art events.
  • Boyne City Preschool, Boyne City: $2,500 for gutters, contingent on raising the rest of the funding.
  • Boyne Soccer Club, Boyne City: $2,332 for a storage shed.
  • Challenge Mountain, Boyne City: $5,000 for an enclosed utility trailer for adaptive biking.
  • Charlevoix Area Community Pool, Charlevoix: $1,500 for an automated pool chemical mixing system.
  • Crawford Ausable Day Care Inc., Grayling: $2,061.70 for an infant and toddler room.
  • Forest Home Township – Friends of Glacial Hills, Bellaire: $5,000 for Friends of Glacial Hills (NMMBA) Vandermark Road trailhead parking expansion.
  • Gaylord Last Resort, Gaylord: $5,000 for an electrical upgrade.
  • Grass River Natural Area, Inc., Bellaire: $1,800 for historical interpretive signage.
  • Harbor Springs Area Historical Society, Harbor Springs: $2,500 for exhibit lighting for the restoration of the Ephraim Shay Hexagon House and Innovation Museum.
  • Manna Food Project, Harbor Springs: $2,500 to update business management technology.
  • Mount Carmel Centre, Inc., Gaylord: $5,000 for exterior metal trim paint project.
  • Otsego County United Way, Gaylord: $2,600 for the final phase of the OCUW Community Service Building Renovation.
  • Pigeon River Country Association Discovery Center, Vanderbilt: $2,000 for a projector, screen, signage, and other assets to expand/enhance education for elementary and middle school youth.
  • Raven Hill Discovery Center, East Jordan: $1,950 artifacts and supplies for the Innovations Across the Ages Evolving Technology expansion project.
  • Veterans Education, Training & Support, Inc., Gaylord: $7,000 for The Landing Zone HVAC project.
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1518, Gaylord: $5,000 for specialized dome playground equipment for Phase I of a playscape in Veterans Community Park, contingent on raising the rest of the funding.
  • Wagbo Peace Center, $3,800 for a new door and window in the fiber arts & culture classroom.

The north region includes the counties of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Montmorency, Otsego, and Oscoda.

For the first grant cycle of 2024, the People Fund’s central region board awarded 16 grants totaling $42,316.15  The grants awarded include:

  • Big Rapids First United Methodist Church, Big Rapids: $3,000 for new ranges.
  • Bread of Life Food Pantry, Baldwin: $2,500 for emergency assistance.
  • Cadillac Winter Warriors Snowmobile Club, New Lenox: $500 for signs for their trail system.
  • Caritas Food Pantry, Custer: $1,500 for a new freezer.
  • City of Scottville, Scottville: $3,000 for the Little League baseball field improvement.
  • Communities Overcoming Violent Encounters, Ludington: $2,500 for furniture in shelters.
  • Friends of Cadillac Wexford Public Library – Adult Literacy Council, Cadillac: $500 for the English Second Language and Outreach program.
  • Lake County Historical Society, Baldwin: $3,000 for furnishings in the research library and museum workroom, contingent on raising the rest of the funding.
  • Lincoln Township Fire Department, Reed City: $6,000 for an additional medical first response unit.
  • Ludington Coats and Boots, Ludington: $3,500 for essential winter attire for qualifying youth.
  • Mason County Historical Society, Ludington: $4,000 for the White Pine Village Fire Barn roof replacement.
  • Mecosta County Sheriff’s Department, Big Rapids: $2,341.15 for a Mondopad.
  • Mecosta-Osceola Career Center, Big Rapids: $2,500 for the MOCC Student Success, Retention, and Recruitment project.
  • Pathfinder Community Library, Baldwin: $2,475 for replacement computers.
    Pine River Area Schools, LeRoy: $4,000 for two AED’s for schools.
  • Power Book Bags, Suttons’s Bay: $1,000 for Lake County Baby Pantry resources.

The central region includes the counties of Clare, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, and Wexford.

For the first grant cycle of 2024, the People Fund’s south region board awarded 24 grants totaling $34,295.32. The grants awarded include:

  • Allegan United Methodist Church, Allegan: $1,000 for the Hands of Grace Food Pantry.
  • Cadillac Winter Warriors Snowmobile Club, New Lenox: $500 for signage in their trail system.
  • Christian Neighbors SE, Plainwell: $1,000 for food pantry assistance.
  • Congregational Kitchen, Allegan: $1,356.98 for two stainless carts and a worktable.
  • Evart Public District Library, Evart: $1,000 for tinting of museum and library windows.
  • Grant Public School District, Grant: $750 for a middle school playground upgrade.
  • Harmonized Healing Counseling Services, Inc., White Cloud: $1,118 for two new doors.
  • Hart Public Schools – Spitler PTO, Hart: $750 for Spitler PTO playground updates.
  • Holland Free Health Clinic, Holland: $1,168 for cookbooks and testing supplies for the Diabetes Empowerment Initiative.
  • New Era Christian Reformed Church, New Era: $1,000 for Farmers Market entertainment.
  • Newaygo County Environmental Coalition, Newaygo: $1,264 for vernal pool monitoring.
  • Oceana County Council on Aging, Hart: $3,838.34 for a new range, contingent on raising the rest of the funding needed.
  • Oceana County Medical Care Facility, Hart: $750 for a digital piano.
  • Paws With A Cause, Wayland: $3,000 for leashes, clippers, and blades for the PAWS Prison Partners program.
  • Pentwater Historical Society, Pentwater: $1,000 for the USS Sequoia Exhibit.
  • Pentwater Lake Association, Pentwater: $500 for an EnviroDIY Monitoring Station for the Pentwater River.
  • Project Hope of NE Allegan County, Dorr: $1,000 for food pantry assistance.
  • Renewed Hope Free Health Clinic, Allegan: $1,000 for medical supplies.
  • Shelby Public Schools, Shelby: $1,000 for the Ride with Pride program.
  • Sylvia’s Place, Allegan: $4,600 for furniture and fixtures in their emergency shelter.
  • Trinity Community Food Pantry, New Era: $2,500 for a walk-in cooler and freezer.
  • White Cloud Lions, White Cloud: $1,000 for a freezer.
  • White Lake Music Society, Montague: $500 for family concerts during the Chamber Music Festival.
  • Woodland Park Community Center, Bitely: $2,700 for the plywood for a roof renovation.

The south region includes the counties of Allegan, Barry, Kent, Muskegon,  Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, Oceana, and Ottawa.

Enroll in the People Fund

By allowing us to “round up” your monthly electric bill to the next dollar, you put your small change to work right in your own community. All of the money collected goes back to grant recipients. All contributors are entered into two annual drawings where we give away six $100 Great Lakes Energy bill credits. This contest is our small way of saying “thanks” to every Great Lakes Energy member who supports the People Fund. The People Fund has awarded more than $4.5 million to local charitable groups since 1999.

For an average round up contribution of 50 cents per month, your small change will make a BIG difference. Plus you could win $100! No billing round up contributions are used to fund this contest.

Apply for a Grant

Grants are awarded to non-profit, charitable organizations that provide humanitarian, educational or community development services within our 26-county area. A portion of the funds may be awarded to organizations that help individuals or families in crisis or to tax exempt organizations.

Letters of interest are due April 1 and Oct. 1.
Grant applications and associated paperwork are due by April 15 and Oct. 15. 

Grants are awarded by three independent boards of volunteer directors who evaluate every application in their region—north, central or south. They evaluate each application based on the specific project and unique needs of the region, looking for programs that enhance the quality of life in our communities by:

  • Promoting good citizenship.
  • Increasing the capacity of rural organizations to promote self reliance and independence.
  • Supplementing local initiatives.
Grants may be awarded if they:
  • Are one-time in nature, rather than on-going.
  • Benefit a large number of people.
  • Leverage funds from other sources.
  • Distribute funds to organizations that help individuals or families in crisis.
  • Help programs to increase their capacity to deliver services.
  • Are for a tax-exempt, non-profit or 501(c)3 organization.
  • Enhance cooperation and collaboration among organizations.
  • Avoid duplication of services.
  • Help deliver services of an organization more effectively.

Grants are generally not awarded for:

  • Daily school operations.
  • Normal operating expenses including: stipends, salaries, travel, room & board, rent or lease, and/or planning expenses.
  • Fundraising or political campaigns.
  • Loans or deficit spending.
  • Endowment funds.
  • Retroactive projects.
  • Individuals.
  • Faith-based organizations, unless the project provided services to all community members, regardless of the community member’s religious affiliation or participation, i.e. a food pantry, community dinner, etc.
  • Organizations promoting any particular religious doctrine.
  • Scholarships or endowments.
Every Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member may contribute to the People Fund by authorizing the cooperative to “round up” their bill to the next highest dollar (an average of 50 cents each month or $6 per year). All contributions are tax-deductible. There is no overhead.  All of the money contributed is returned to our local communities.

Grant Application

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