After 30 years away from Genesee County, Katie Kool-Wray, a former Flushing resident and Powers Catholic grad, felt the need to make an impact on the community. “I had to find a way to give back to the Genesee County community and to find my people,” she explains. “When I lived in Cincinnati, I was a member of a large network of women like myself, who wanted to make a difference.” After a discussion with a friend from Traverse City, Kool-Wray found a way to make it all happen. Her friend was a member of her local chapter of Impact100 and Kool-Wray immediately began to think about what the organization could do for Genesee County. Impact100 is a national organization of women who come together determined to make a difference in their local communities. Kool-Wray established the Genesee County chapter in June.
“Impact100 Genesee County is a 501(c)(3) meant to transform and lift a local non-profit to the next level,” Kool-Wray describes. “It can most easily be described as a giving circle of at least 100 women who each pledge $1,000 annually. The funds get pooled together with the goal of awarding a $100,000 grant to a qualified non-profit in Genesee County.” Founded 20 years ago, Impact100 now has over 60 chapters worldwide. To date, over $120 million has been granted to existing non-profit organizations. Each chapter is its own 501(c)(3) and operates independent of the larger organization. “It’s a proven model,” says Kool-Wray, “and each chapter has the autonomy to do what is best for its local community.”
“I have seen the positivity and potential of Genesee County and it has made me more determined than ever to be a part of the change.”
The premise is simple. Each Impact100 member needs only pledge $1,100 to the cause (the additional $100 covers administrative costs such as marketing, rent, utilities, etc.). The group will be voting on which organization will receive a $100,000 grant at the “Big Give” scheduled for October 2024. Currently, the member drive is in full swing. “We have verbal commitments from 40 women,” says Kool-Wray, “and we are still looking for board members.” According to Kool-Wray, what makes Impact100 different is its transparency. Each member has a voice in choosing the grant recipient, as opposed to giving money to a blanket organization and then wondering where the funds truly went. A member’s time commitment need be only as big as necessary. It can be as small as the time required to drop off a check and vote in October, or as big as year-round immersion in the operation. “Be involved as much as you want,” adds Kool-Wray. For those who would like to join but may be worried about the pledge amount, payment plans are available with a paid-in-full date of September 15, 2024. “We believe that it is important to accommodate a diverse group of women to represent Genesee County,” says Kool-Wray. “We will work with you where you are. Our first goal is to get a membership of 100 women.”
Although the $100,000 grant is the biggest catalyst for change Impact100 can provide, the group’s main purpose is to enhance and help area non-profits achieve their highest potential for making a difference. To that end, Impact100 has plans to host workshops throughout the year with a focus on improvement in areas such as grant-writing. “We want to help provide local leaders with transferable skills to uplift non-profits in as many ways as possible,” states Kool-Wray.
Impact100 Genesee County plans to open applications for its first grant in March 2024. Eligible non-profits must be based in Genesee County, MI and have an operating budget of less than $5 million. Each applying non-profit must submit at least three years of financial statements. The five finalist organizations must each make a presentation at the Big Give event in October 2024, at which time Impact100 members will vote for the winner. Any amount raised by Impact100 members exceeding the grant goal of $100,000 will be distributed amongst the other finalists.
On January 11 from 5-7pm, Impact100 Genesee County will host an open house for prospective members at Fenton Center of Hope. During the open house, small LED flashlights will be collected for donation to the Clara’s Hope organization. Women who are interested need only show up for more information and to get to know the group. Others who are interested in joining can contact Kool-Wray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Since I have come back to the area and started Impact100, I have learned a ton about the community and have met a great group of women,” says Kool-Wray. “I have seen the positivity and potential of Genesee County and it has made me more determined than ever to be a part of the change.”
Join Impact100 Genesee County as a member and help raise Genesee County to its next level of giving.
For more information, visit impact100geneseecounty.org.