The Chelsea Community Foundation exists to help nonprofit organizations achieve their mission to address community needs and opportunities to improve Chelsea's quality of life.

Chelsea Community Foundation (Chelsea Foundation) is a permanent charitable endowment totaling more than $2.7 million created through gifts from generous individuals, families, and businesses who care about Chelsea. Since 1995, more than $2 million, has been granted to local nonprofits impacting every demographic in the Chelsea community, defined as the Chelsea School District.  

Our History

Chelsea Foundation is a grassroots organization that started in 1981 at the Wood Shed with three people who shared a common desire to bring extra value to Chelsea's community: Ray Van Meer* (Chelsea School Superintendent), Art Dils (Chelsea School and Chelsea Hospital Board Member) and Will Johnson (President & CEO of Chelsea Community Hospital.) The trio consulted with many rooted Chelsea families, including the Holmes, Palmer, Schaible, Daniels, Mann, Ludwig, and Knopper, to vet ideas and incorporate families and businesses. They ultimately filed for Articles of Incorporation and tax-exempt status, and The Civic Foundation of Chelsea was born; George Palmer became the first Board Chair. 

One year later, the hospital industry considered how to respond to Medicare payments changes and created a foundation at the hospital called The Foundation for Community Care. However, as the implementation of Medicare unfolded to meet recipients' needs, in 1986, The Foundation for Community Care began redirecting support to The Civic Foundation of Chelsea. The two organizations merged in 1994 into The Chelsea Community Foundation that subsequently became an affiliate of The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan in 1995. The affiliate relationship continues to grow and flourish. The Chelsea Community Foundation benefits from having The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan's organizational structure and philanthropic experience that benefits from having a local organization to ensure that the efforts and funding are focused on bringing sustainable growth to Chelsea.  Another major milestone occurred in 1997, the year of Chelsea State Bank’s 100th anniversary, when they donated $250,000 to the Chelsea Community Foundation to help launch their $1 million goal.

Advisory Committee

People create legacies by participating in ways to make their community better, healthier, and sustainable. Several of Chelsea Foundation’s advisory committee members are participating because their parents are good role models. They all live and work in the Chelsea Community. Some left to build a new life, only to return. Will Johnson, one of the original founding members, remains on the committee today. Other members moved here and made Chelsea their home and want to be proactive in making it grow; the Chelsea Foundation is an umbrella organization for the Community of Chelsea in many respects. 

One of the primary attractions of being on the Chelsea Foundations advisory committee, is the immediate and unswerving giving to the Chelsea Community. The Chelsea Foundation’s oversight is comprised of an advisory committee of civic leaders and supported by many local individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofit organizations committed to building a healthy, sustainable, and vibrant community. With the support of The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, the advisory committee is agile, responsive, thoughtful, and committed to supporting all things Chelsea.

Grants & Scholarships

Over the past 29 years, a diverse list of 50+ grant and scholarship recipients include:*
(please note several grant recipients have merged into other organizations or changed their name)

Arts & Culture

Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra-Ensemble Programs at Chelsea Elementary Schools

Chelsea Area Festivals & Events

Chelsea Area Historical Society

Chelsea Area Players

Chelsea Center for the Development of the Arts

Chelsea Chamber Players

First Congregational Church of Chelsea-

Performing Arts

Michigan Nonprofit Association-Capacity Building for Chelsea Nonprofits

Purple Rose Theatre


Medical & Intergenerational Healthy Aging

Alzheimer's Diseases & Related Disorders Association-Great Lakes

American Red Cross - Washtenaw County

Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw Co

Chelsea Hospital, SRSLY

Chelsea Health & Wellness Foundation

Chelsea Senior Citizens Activities Center

Fair Food Network-Double Up Food Bucks

Faith In Action - Affordable & Emergency Housing, Community Garden

Big Brothers/Big Sisters

Hope Medical Clinic

Silver Maples of Chelsea

UMRC Heritage Foundation

United Methodist Retirement Communities

Trails, Parks & Transportation

Barn Sanctuary

Chelsea Area Pickleball Association

Chelsea Recreation - Timbertown, safety training + baseball fields at Beach Middle School

City of Chelsea - Historical District Project, pedestrian bridge at Veterans Park, Timbertown, Chelsea Depot restoration, Chelsea Historical Society, Lett's Linear Park

Huron River Pathways Initiative - Timbertown

Legacy Land Conservancy

Neighborhood Senior Services - Transportation

State of Michigan - Eddy Discovery Center

Township of Lyndon - Potawatomi Biking Assoc - Waterloo

Western - Washtenaw Area Value Express WAVE


Youth & Education

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum - CSD Outreach Program

Chelsea Athletic Boosters

Chelsea District Library

Chelsea Education Foundation

Chelsea Hockey Association

Chelsea School District - Teen Network, Alumni Arbor, #WhyYouMatter, Young Adults Health Center

Chelsea Rotary Foundation

Special Olympics Michigan

St. Louis Center for Exceptional Children & Adults

Washtenaw Intermediate School District

*Scholarships = $217,970

In 2015 in honor of the Chelsea Community Foundation’s 20th anniversary, grants were given to several of the above nonprofit organizations to be applied to general operations outside of the normal grant application process. In 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Chelsea Foundation once again provided emergency funds to 13 nonprofit organizations to offset staff and general operating expenses. 

Two nonprofit recipients epitomize the organization's focus on endurance and sustainability - Sounds & Sights on Thursday Nights, which Chelsea Foundation started supporting in 2007. The summer concert series continues under the guidance of Chelsea Area Festivals & Events, initially housed in The Chelsea Center for the Arts. The second is the Kaleidoscope Concert Series at Silver Maples of Chelsea, both venues are free to the public.

Other Chelsea Foundation investments that have a vital intersection with the broader Chelsea Community include the DTE Energy Bike path and the Eddy Discovery Center ADA trails that have the only handicap accessible trails in Washtenaw County.  The Advisory Committee members share a sense of priority to make sure that resources are allocated in a thoughtful way to make the most significant impact on Chelsea's future.

Chelsea Community Foundation is profoundly grateful for and relies on donors' generosity in the Chelsea area to realize its mission. Donors who are interested in supporting Chelsea may find out more by visiting our GIVE page.