Michigan nonprofit organizations received $5 million in contributions in 2010 from Jackson-based Consumers Energy, its employees, retirees, philanthropic arm, and the utility’s parent company, CMS Energy.

The United Way was the largest single recipient with nearly $1.8 million contributed to 57 local United Way organizations.

Recognizing the growing number of Michigan families struggling because of the poor economy, CMS Energy increased its contributions from a donor-advised fund by about $1 million in 2010.  The additional funds were targeted for early childhood and basic needs programs, such as a $50,000 grant to the Food Bank Council of Michigan for the distribution of fresh food and $60,000 to the Child Care Network to support child care scholarships in Jackson County.

David Mengebier, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation, said the additional $1 million plus increases in all other contribution areas pushed the company’s overall giving in 2010 well past its 2009 level of $3.3 million.

“We significantly increased our support to some of the leading assistance organizations in the state last year so they could help more people,” Mengebier said. “The main goal of our philanthropic efforts is simple: to help people in the communities that we serve. We’ve been a part of Michigan and serving families and businesses for 125 years. Our company motto is ‘Count on Us,’ which is a pledge to our customers and communities and a commitment that we take seriously.

“Today, we have 7,600 employees who carry on our company’s long tradition of helping those in need and doing their part to improve the communities we serve and where they work and live,” added Mengebier, who also is the senior vice president of governmental and public affairs for Consumers Energy and CMS Energy and the chief compliance officer for the utility and CMS Energy.

Overall, Consumers Energy Foundation and corporate grants totaling more than $3.3 million were awarded to 895 projects in 2010. The company’s giving programs focus on education, social welfare, culture and the arts, community and civic activities, and the environment.

The Foundation’s Volunteer Investment Program awarded grants totaling $216,300 to 438 organizations on behalf of 533 employees and retirees.  The VIP program was established to recognize the importance of employee and retiree volunteerism, and support nonprofit organizations making a difference in their communities. Through this program, organizations supported by employees and retirees with volunteer time can receive grants from $100 to $500 or more.

The Consumers Energy Foundation’s Matching Gifts program also provided more than $128,000 to match employee and retiree donations to 36 higher educational institutions, 20 community foundations, and 57 food banks and food pantries across the state. 

Notable 2010 grants included:

* $250,000 to the Michigan Association of United Ways to support the Michigan Benefits Access Initiative to help Michigan families gain access to nearly 30 different federal benefits and tax credits
* $95,000 to the Great Start Collaborative of Jackson County for the Imagination Library program and parent education program in conjunction with East Lansing public television station WKAR
* $50,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jackson County to support the “Bigs in School” program, which encourages adults to become a Big Brother or Big Sister to elementary pupils and meet during school hours
* $50,000 to Western Michigan University for the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education’s CoreKids environmental science program for kindergarten through 12th grade
* $35,000 to the Hillsdale County Great Start for the Imagination Library program and a child care scholarship program
* $25,000 to the Capital Region Community Foundation, of Lansing, to support a child care scholarship program and the Imagination Library program
* $25,000 to Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency for a child care scholarship program
* $25,000 to Siena Heights University for construction of a new university center at its Adrian campus
* $25,000 to Spring Arbor University for expansion of the Kresge Student Life Center at its Spring Arbor campus
* $25,000 to Michigan Nature Association supporting stewardship activities in southern Michigan
* $20,000 to the Salvation Army’s Bay City Citadel Corps for construction of a new community center
* $20,000 to the Delta College Foundation for development of the University Center Trail connecting Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University
* $20,000 to Eastern Michigan University to support Project Lead the Way, a program to encourage high school students to pursue a career in science, engineering or engineering technology
* $20,000 to Grand Valley State University supporting construction of a new college of business building at its downtown Grand Rapids campus
* $20,000 to the Land Conservancy of West Michigan supporting the acquisition and preservation of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

More at www.consumersenergy.com.


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