How we got started
In early April 2002, persons concerned about the future of the Bangor area met to discuss ways in which they could address its needs, including those described above. One suggestion was to form a community foundation with the capability of raising funds that would be used to address the needs in the area.
Initially, this group of concerned citizens met with representatives of Kalamazoo Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that is classified under IRC Section 509(a)(1). Kalamazoo Community Foundation's principal office is in the City of Kalamazoo, about 25 miles from Bangor, but it maintains funds that are used to support Kalamazoo and its surrounding region.
Kalamazoo Community Foundation proposed that the citizens create an endowment fund within Kalamazoo Community Foundation that would be for the benefit of the Bangor area. Such a fund was established and the citizens undertook to solicit donations to it. As of March 31, 2005, there was almost $9,000 in the endowment fund at Kalamazoo Community Foundation. These funds are the property of Kalamazoo Community Foundation; however, Kalamazoo Community Foundation will make a portion of the fund available to the Bangor Area Community Foundation Board each year for expenditure on charitable and educational projects in the Bangor Area Community Foundation's service area.
In addition, BACF partners with Western Michigan University to offer educational scholarships to Bangor area students through the U.S. Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant program. In April 2002, Joseph Kretovics, Ph.D., a professor from the Western Michigan University College of Education, spoke with the citizens group about a proposal to provide college scholarships to graduates of Bangor High School. Western Michigan University's College of Education had received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant program.
GEAR UP provides grants that are targeted to high-poverty middle schools and high schools. It is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. It uses partnerships to serve and accelerate the academic achievement of groups of students through their high school graduation.
Western Michigan proposed to use the GEAR UP funds to study one rural and multiple urban school systems that contained a large number of low income students. Professor Kretovics recommended that Bangor Public Schools be selected as the rural school district.