Utopia Foundation's mission is to help create a world where communities thrive and every person goes to bed feeling loved, happy and optimistic about tomorrow.
Utopia Foundation’s broad mission statement reflects our desire to operate responsive, flexible, and highly effective initiatives. Our initiatives range from:
- Local to global
- immediate crisis response to enduring impacts of efforts such as early childhood development;
- philanthropic approaches to assist those in the greatest need to a more entrepreneurial-minded approach, such as micro enterprise, to help others lift themselves and stay out of poverty; and
- support of programs operated by other non-profits to those we administer ourselves.
Utopia Gifts is our matching gift program. We identify and partner with non-profit programs that both align with our mission and have a high probability of success. By offering matching grants, we help stretch your dollar farther. We also perform thorough due diligence by closely investigating the efficacy of programs prior to offering matches and then follow up to ensure funds are used as intended.
The Utopia Foundation is committed to creating sustainable change through domestic and international microloan programs. Microcredit provides small loans to people that may not qualify for funding through conventional banking systems. This financial resource allows an individual to begin, or build the capacity of a microenterprise, thus leading to economic sustainability and independence. Such strategic ventures enable Utopia to undertake projects that are significant in scope and have lasting effects on the individuals involved and their communities at large.
At present Utopia Foundation is working on international microloans with Kickstart based in Kenya. Both organizations have similar goals to lift people put of poverty through effective, self sustaining programs that ensure that individuals are empowered.
Utopia Foundation also supports domestic microenterprise. We are partnering with the Northwest MI Farm and Food 20/20 Fund to support undercapitalized local farmers with matched individual development accounts and business guidance.
Past microloan successes include group microloans in rural Guatemala and Leelanau County, MI. Contact us if you are interested in partnering with UF on microenterprise.
Early Childhood Development
Utopia Foundation holds a growing interest in early childhood development. Research increasingly emphasizes the importance of the first few years of life on cognitive development, school achievement, emotional and social development, and the ability to lead a fulfilling life. Utopia Foundation is supporting a local initiative, Parenting Communities of Leelanau County, with evaluation and communications. Additionally, Utopia Foundation intends to become involved in early childhood development efforts in Africa. Check back frequently to learn more and/or contact us regarding EDC.
Rapid Crisis Response
Utopia Foundation has and will continue to support global populations struggling with crisis. For example, Utopia Foundation offered a match on shelter boxes after the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Our financial match and invitation to Northern Michigan philanthropists resulted in a total of 17 shelter boxes made available to Haitian earthquake victims.
Utopia Foundation also sent emergency funding to one of our Utopia Fund partner organizations, SOIL. SOIL was faced with the possibility of severe cutbacks to their sanitation and public health programs in internally displaced persons camps. Utopia Foundation stepped in to provide funding to allow these sanitation and cholera prevention programs to continue. Check back regularly to see opportunities to assist.
TED is a non-profit that runs conferences based on the concept of Ideas Worth Sharing. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. TEDxTraverseCity brings together innovative and inspiring minds. The inspirational day will honor innovators who have passion, curiosity, creativity and adaptability to change the world with revolutionary ideas.
TEDxTraverseCity Speaker Gift Match
As a show of appreciation, Utopia Foundation offers TEDxTraverse City speakers matching funds for their favorite non-profit organizations. 2011 and 2012 TEDxTraverse City speaker gift matches included programs such as: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan, Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation, Circle of Blue, Free the Slaves, International Justice Mission, Land Conservancy of West Michigan, Michigan Land Use Institute, Saginaw Valley Sustainability Society, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), The 30 Project, The Empowerment Plan, The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, and the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center. Check back soon to learn more about, and donate to, our 2013 speaker match programs.