FLINT, Michigan — Every single person has the ability to make a difference in their community. That impact is even greater when volunteers rally together for good. That’s the idea behind a new women’s collective giving organization, Impact100 Genesee County
The organization hopes to gather a diverse group of women to make a positive change in their surrounding community by donating $1,000 or more annually. Each donation is pooled together to distribute to local nonprofits in the arts and culture, education, environment, family, and health and wellness sectors. The goal is to give a $100,000 grant to a Genesee County nonprofit per year.
When Flushing native Katie Kool-Wray moved back to the area, she began looking for ways to make friends. She grew up in Flushing before spending time in St. Louis and Cincinnati during school and her corporate career with Procter & Gamble. After retiring early in the summer of 2022, she moved back to Linden and started a new chapter of her life.
“Part of what I knew I wanted to do was find a way to give back to the community,” said Kool-Wray. “I also wanted to find ‘my people.’ I had lived in Cincinnati for a long time and met a lot of great women. I became aware of Impact100. There’s actually over 60 chapters around the world, each one is its own 501(c)(3). It’s a giving circle of women who put their funds together.”
Kool-Wray decided to start a local chapter and launched Impact100 Genesee County in January of this year. The president of the organization says the difference these chapters are able to make is truly transformative.
“We established ourselves as a 501(c)(3) around February or March, and I got a core group of great women who formed the board. We built our website, started putting together what our chapter will look like,” she said.
“In September, we really started recruiting and getting our name out into the community, and joining different organizations. We’re really focused on gaining members because that’s where the funding comes from.”
“We want to make sure the nonprofits know that we're here and that we're not a competitor to them,” Kool-Wray added. “We’re looking to increase the pie of what’s available to nonprofits in Genesee County.”
Impact100 Genesee County is in the process of building its cohort of local women across all ages, stages in life, income levels, and backgrounds. The goal is for at least 100 members to donate $1,000 each, resulting in a $100,000 donation to a local charity. Kool-Wray says there is a grant review process in place to help members decide which organization to donate to. The choices will be narrowed down, and the organization will host site visits to see the nonprofits firsthand.
“We’re focusing on organizations that are serving the underserved in our community, that are making a tangible, positive impact on whatever area they’re focused on,” she said.
Even nonprofits who aren’t chosen for the $100,000 grant aren’t totally out, and she hopes to mentor organizations too and provide extra exposure to the community. Grant applications
open up in March 2024.
“The benefit isn’t just to the nonprofit that will win the grant, but it’s to all that will participate and hopefully walk away stronger, better, and more sustainable than before they encountered us,” said Kool-Wray.
Katie Kool-Wray poses with several members of Impact100 Genesee County.
Members are invited to attend networking, social events, and informational sessions throughout the year. Payment plans are available for memberships
, grants provide scholarships to people who are passionate about the group’s mission but have financial burdens preventing them from getting a membership. There are no age requirements, and junior memberships for those under 35 are available as well.
Members are not required to be residents of Genesee County, but the funds will stay local.
Kool-Wray has enjoyed getting to become reacquainted with the Greater Flint community after spending time away.
“I was so pleasantly surprised and excited by the vibrancy that’s coming through the city and the events that are happening,” she said. “I feel like I’m finding these different pockets of community because I’m talking to so many different people. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Impact100 Genesee County is hosting a meet and greet for interested community members at the Flint Farmers’ Market on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. People are encouraged to bring feminine care products, diapers, and baby wipes to donate to the Fenton Center of Hope and the Martus Luna Food Pantry.
To learn more about Impact100 Genesee County, visit the website here. Those interested in learning more about becoming a member can email [email protected].
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