JACKSON — The Consumers Energy Foundation announced today that it has awarded a $125,000 grant to support a new literacy program in Jackson County.

The grant will benefit the newly created Energizing Education Program, a product of the new Cradle to Career collaborative. The pilot program will begin at Frost Elementary School, Head Start and the Partnership Park Afterschool Program in January 2013.

The long-range goal for the program is for it to be established at all schools in Jackson County, providing specially trained volunteer mentors to ensure every student will be reading at grade level by the third grade. 

The Jackson grant is part of $1.25 million in matching grants offered to 10 community projects throughout Michigan as part of Consumers Energy’s 125th anniversary celebration.

“We relied on local leaders to tell us what’s important to the people of their communities and where support from the Consumers Energy Foundation could make a real impact to meet those important needs,” said David G. Mengebier, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “This contribution will go toward the greatest investment that we have: our children.”

The United Way of Jackson County and the Jackson Community Foundation worked collaboratively on the grant proposal on behalf of several other organizations.

“The coordination of so many organizations allowed the Energizing Education program to become a reality,” said Ken Toll, president and CEO of the United Way of Jackson County. “This generous gift by Consumers Energy will go a long way in energizing Jackson County children to reach their full reading potential.”

The projects selected for the $125,000 matching grants include:

* Bay City – The Bay Commitment College Resource Center, which helps Bay County students and their parents apply for college and for financial assistance.
* Saginaw – The Saginaw Community Foundation successfully raised matching dollars to support the restoration of the city’s Deindorfer Woods Park.
* Lansing – The Michigan Nonprofit Association. The grant supports the development of the Nonprofit Center at the Armory.
* Flint – The Community Foundation of Greater Flint will support the Flint/Genesee County Green and Healthy Homes Initiative. The challenge grant will support an effort to repair or replace the roofs of the homes of low-income families.
* Grand Rapids – The West Michigan Sports Commission.  The grant will support the construction of a 12-field sports complex in Rockford.
* Kalamazoo – The Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity.  The grant supports the organization’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which targets an effort to meet housing needs in distressed neighborhoods.
* Muskegon – The Muskegon Retail Incubator, formerly known as the Russell Block Market program. This will foster opportunities for entrepreneurs to develop sustainable retail businesses in downtown Muskegon.
* Pontiac – The Lighthouse of Oakland County.  The grant supports the renovation of the headquarters for the organization, which helps struggling families move to self-sufficiency and independence.
* Traverse City – The Traverse City Film Festival.  Matching grant dollars were part of an investment to support the successful restoration of the exterior of the historic State Theatre in downtown Traverse City. 

The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy.  The foundation provides funding for a variety of areas including education, community and civic development, culture and the arts, social services, the environment, and emerging issues.

In 2011, Consumers Energy, its employees, retirees, the Consumers Energy Foundation, and the utility’s parent company, CMS Energy, contributed more than $3.8 million to Michigan nonprofit organizations.

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

More at www.consumersenergy.com or www.consumersenergy.com/foundation.


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