Consumers Energy Foundation awards early education grants

MANISTEE — Consumers Energy Foundation is an organization that fully appreciates the important role early childhood education plays in the future of today’s children.

Consumers Energy Foundation gave the Wexford Missaukee Manistee Great Start Collaborative a $7,500 grant to help them with early childhood programs. Shown left to right are Eric Gustad Consumers Energy, Seth Hopkins Great Start Collaborative, Erin Pontiac Great Start Collaborative and Carolyn Bloodworth Consumer Energy Foundation.

Consumers Energy Foundation gave the Wexford Missaukee Manistee Great Start Collaborative a $7,500 grant to help them with early childhood programs. Shown left to right are Eric Gustad Consumers Energy, Seth Hopkins Great Start Collaborative, Erin Pontiac Great Start Collaborative and Carolyn Bloodworth Consumer Energy Foundation.

It is why the foundation has been one of the leaders in supplying vital grants to area educational groups to support the many programs they run to help children succeed in the classroom.

On Friday afternoon Consumers Energy officials were at the Alliance For Economic Success offices where they presented checks to the Wexford-Missaukee-Manistee Great Start Collaborative for $7,500 and to the Manistee County Community Foundation in support of Launch Manistee for $20,000.

Consumers Energy Foundation president Brandon Hofmeister said it is all part of Consumers Energy’s belief in the need for a good education by all children.

“The Consumers Energy Foundation is committed to Michigan having world class education programs at all levels and we are pleased to support Launch Manistee and Great Start Collaborative,” said Hofmeister. “Because of Launch Manistee more 3 and 4 years olds are benefitting from quality pre-school experiences and more high school students are prepared to ultimately get a great job. The energy and collaborative spirit of Launch Manistee are yielding precisely the kind of results that we need to ensure a talented competitive workforce and a vibrant diverse economy.”

Hofmeister also praise the efforts of the Great Start Collaborative.

“We’re pleased to open an exciting chapter in the lives of thousands of Northern Michigan Children by supporting this early education effort,” he said. “We can build a bright future for the next generation of Michigan’s residents tomorrow starting right in the communities that we serve today.”

Launch Manistee has been in existence since 2014 with the Manistee County Community Foundation providing fiscal and administrative services. It is a cradle to career initiative that helps ensure students are ready for school, post secondary options and a career.

Consumers Energy Foundation made a $20,000 donation to Launch Manistee on Friday to support their early education programs. Shown (left to right) are Eric Gustad, Consumers Energy, Ed Kolanowski, Manistee Catholic Central, Susan Hornkohl, Manistee County Community Foundation, Mary Ann Behm, Launch Manistee, Chelle Hrachovina, Manistee County Community Foundation, Ashleigh Maier, Brethren and Manistee HS College Advisor, Laura Heintzelman, Manistee County Community Foundation, Beth Urban, Launch Manistee, Carolyn Bloodworth, Consumers Energy Foundation, Shelly Vanvoorst, CASMAN Academy, Danielle Oleniczak, Manistee Catholic Central, Hannah Rodriguez, Launch Manistee and Haley Doyle, Launch Manistee.

Consumers Energy Foundation made a $20,000 donation to Launch Manistee on Friday to support their early education programs. Shown (left to right) are Eric Gustad, Consumers Energy, Ed Kolanowski, Manistee Catholic Central, Susan Hornkohl, Manistee County Community Foundation, Mary Ann Behm, Launch Manistee, Chelle Hrachovina, Manistee County Community Foundation, Ashleigh Maier, Brethren and Manistee HS College Advisor, Laura Heintzelman, Manistee County Community Foundation, Beth Urban, Launch Manistee, Carolyn Bloodworth, Consumers Energy Foundation, Shelly Vanvoorst, CASMAN Academy, Danielle Oleniczak, Manistee Catholic Central, Hannah Rodriguez, Launch Manistee and Haley Doyle, Launch Manistee.

Consumers Energy were represented on Friday by foundation secretary-treasurer Carolyn Bloodworth and area manager Eric Gustad. Launch Manistee program director Mary Ann Behm praised them and the Consumers Energy Foundation for their continued support.

“We thank you for the amazing partnership and support,” said Behm. “Today we want to acknowledge the recent gift and donation. It is heartwarming to see the people here in the room today who have supported Launch since its inception. We wouldn’t be able to do the wonderful work we do without our wonderful students and school staff and partners at the foundation as well as at Great Start and Launch. It is such an uplifting thought to know we are truly collaborating in this community.”

Manistee County Community Foundation executive director Laura Heintzelman also praised the support.

“We are really privileged to serve as the anchor for Launch Manistee and it’s been a wonderful way to bridge so many community partners coming together around a shared vision for our county’s future,” said Heintzelman. “So we are really blessed to have the continued support from the Consumers Energy Foundation.”

Heintzelman pointed out that throughout the years it resulted in $115,000 in donations.

“We are extremely grateful for that,” she said.

Bloodworth said the Consumers Energy Foundation is pleased to give back to the communities around the state.

“On behalf of Eric and the 7,500 others like us we are happy to give back,” said Bloodworth. “We talk about caring for the community and about Manistee County. We talk about you being a hometown community and have programs about being home grown and youth driven. So we are happy to invest in that and are really happy to invest in the great work you are doing. We know it isn’t easy and we applaud all the great work you do.”

Great Start Collaborative coordinator Seth Hopkins said with Consumers Energy’s help they are doing some amazing things to help children.

“This year we are talking about preschool scholarships which is exciting as we know it is necessary to get our kids into school and prepare them for the future,” said Hopkins.

Some of the items that Hopkins said the funds will be used for is to increase home visiting services in Manistee County, to provide car seats for 3 and 4 year olds.

“I am excited to notify our partners and to get these life changing safety and educational resources to our community’s families,” said Hopkins.

Manistee Intermediate School superintendent Jeff Jennette said many of these programs wouldn’t be possible without the support of groups like the Consumers Energy Foundation.

“We are lucky and grateful to have businesses like Consumers Energy supporting early childhood programming in the Manistee Area,” said Jennette. “Our local districts are seeing students being better prepared for kindergarten and it’s donations like these that help give our children a Great Start to education.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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