What is the Western Marquette County Health Foundation?

The Western Marquette County Health Foundation is a conversion 501 c (3) foundation that materialized on July 1, 2013 following Bell Hospital’s agreement to its purchase by LifePoint Hospital. It is a stand-alone corporation and is not affiliated in any way with LifePoint, Bell Hospital, or Superior Health Foundation (formerly Marquette General Foundation).

What happened to the Bell Foundation?

The Bell Foundation, which provided funding to Bell Hospital to invest in new technology, equipment, and to build the new hospital, transitioned into the Western Marquette County Health Foundation. Its non-profit tax ID was transferred to the new foundation.

If the foundation was created on July 1, 2013, why has it taken so long to announce what has been happening? ?

The original sale agreement of Bell Hospital included a $1M donation to a locally governed charity to provide grants to the community. While $1M is certainly a lot of money, the board of directors of the foundation understood that it was not enough to create a sustainable, independent grantmaking organization. Operational costs and granting expenses, as well as compliance expenses associated with being the ‘watch dog’ organization, would deplete the $1M quickly. The board reviewed its options, which included affiliating with an already existing foundation, establishing a plan to be a grantmaking organization with a sunset date, or requesting the attorney general consider increasing the $1M to a sustainable level. In short, on July 1, 2013, the board of directors did not know what form the foundation would take.

How did the funding increase from $1M to $7M?

While the sale agreement was under review by the Attorney General, the foundation board of directors had opportunities to meet with staffers from the Attorney General’s Office and place their case requesting the $1M be revisited. The larges components of the case focused on large amount of funds raised by the community during the 2005-2008 Capital Campaign and ongoing fundraising for technological initiatives, which totaled over $7M in cash and in-kind gifts. Comparing this amounts with the $1M figure, ongoing costs for compliance, and best practices with how granting organizations are funded (utilizing 3-5% of interest), helped the foundation board of director’s case that $1M was insufficient to create an independent, locally governed, grantmaking foundation.

In November, the foundation was notified that the $1M contribution would be made upon finalization of the sale. In addition, however, any unused funds from the sale of the hospital would also be provided to the foundation. It was announced that the final amount (to be determined once all covenants of the sale were met) would be in the range of $3M-$7M. By July 1, 2014 the final amount received was $7M.

So what have you been doing all this time?

Without knowing how much funding would be received, the foundation continued its special event fundraising so that it could be providing immediate support to community nonprofits. The foundation held its two signature fundraising events, the Harvest Half Marathon (in conjunction with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marquette and Alger Counties) and the Head to Head Bike Race (previously known as the Bell Bike Race.) Funds from the Harvest Half Marathon ($3,000) were distributed to the four local school districts (Negaunee, Ishpeming, NICE and Republic/Michigamme) for youth wellness initiatives. Funds from the Head to Head Bike Race ($2,000) were provided to the YMCA – West End Facility Capital Campaign.

What else needed to be done before you could start giving grants?

Once the foundation realized it would receive additional funds, it began creating its mission statement, vision for the future, investment policy and grantmaking guidelines. It also hired contracted with a CPA and Investment Firm to begin managing the funds and providing appropriate documentation to the IRS. Knowing that it would take a while to develop these pieces, the board of directors knew it was important to begin providing support as soon as possible. It set its first competitive grant cycle was June 30, 2104. In addition to supporting the schools and the YMCA with special event fundraising, the foundation also committed to a matching grant for the Upper Peninsula Diabetes Outreach Network’s Swim Teal Lake Benefit for Diabetes. This grant matched every $1 raised by swimmers for their registration (up to $10,000).

What is the mission of the Western Marquette County Health Foundation?

The mission is to provide funding for health and wellness solutions in Western Marquette County.

Why the focus on Western Marquette County?

The grantmaking focus of the foundation relates directly to the service area of the hospital that was purchased. Marquette General was the specialty hospital for the entire Upper Peninsula so the Superior Health Foundation’s geographic priority followed suit. Bell Hospital’s primary service area was the two cities (Ishpeming, Negaunee) and nine townships (Ishpeming, Negaunee, Tilden, Richmond, Ely, Humboldt, Champion, Michigamme, Republic) that make up Western Marquette County.

While the geographic focus is to provide funding for nonprofits that support individuals in Western Marquette County, the foundation is not limited to this area. Grants will be reviewed that affect Marquette County as a whole, as well as the Upper Peninsula.

When are you going to be accepting grants?

The grant deadline is April 1 and October 1 every year. As the investments continue to grow and the foundation continues its fundraising, the board expects that the amount provided to the community will grow, as well, with the possibility of it reaching annual granting totaling $250,000 or more.

Will the Foundation continue to raise charitable gifts?

Yes. The Western Marquette County Health Foundation will continue to accept donations and host fundraising events.

You just received $7M, why are you still fundraising?

For the foundation to exist for our children and our grandchildren, it is important that the principle be invested wisely, so that it may grow and our grants increase. In addition, fundraising allows us to increase our immediate giving back into the community as we wait for the interest to grow with our investment firm, Bell Financial.

Where is the Western Marquette County Health Foundation located?

On May 1, the foundation relocated to the Chamber of Commerce Building at 910 US 41 West, Ishpeming, MI 49849. Questions may be sent via email to info@wmqtcountyhealthfoundation.org or by calling (906) 204- 2395.

Who works for the Western Marquette County Health Foundation?

In order to keep operating expenses at a minimum during start-up, the foundation does not have a dedicated employee. Instead, it contracts with the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce for a .25 FTE Executive Director and Marketing Coordinator. This share services agreement was reviewed and approved by both boards (GINCC & WMCHF) so that both organizations could align and aid individuals and businesses in Western Marquette County.

Are you still the ‘watch-dog’ for Bell Hospital?

No. Under the final sale agreement and given the high cost of acting as the compliance agent, the Attorney General of the State of Michigan appointed an independent auditing firm to act as the watch-dog. All documents according to the sale can be found on www.michigan.gov/bell . Any concerns with Bell Hospital or LifePoint may be directed to the State of Michigan Attorney General Charitable Assets Division or the independent auditing firm:

Stout Risius Ross
4000 Town Center, 20th Floor
Southfield, MI 48075
Fax No. 248-208-8822
Attention: Jay B. Wachowicz, CFA

Grant Procedure

Grant applications are due by April 1 and October 1. Please mail two copies of your grant application to:

Western Marquette County Health Foundation
910 US 41 West, Suite A
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Grant Application

Grant Policy


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