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 $2.8 million created through gifts from generous individuals, families, and businesses who care about Chelsea. Since 1995, more than $1.8 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 25 years, a diverse list of 40+ grant and scholarship recipients include (please note several grant recipients have merged into other organizations or changed their name):

Alzheimer's Diseases & Related Disorders  

  • Dementia training for care providers in Chelsea

American Red Cross, Washtenaw County

  • Automated external defibrillators for Chelsea Schools
  • Expand Family Caregiving Program

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum 

  • Outreach programs in the Chelsea School District
  • Expand Ensembles in Your Classroom program to elementary schools

Chelsea Center for the Development of the Arts

  • Seed capital to launch a fundraising campaign
  • Emergency roof replacement
  • Expand Marketing and program efforts
  • Merging Sounds & Sights and Chelsea Musical Celebrations into CCDA programming
  • Expand summer entertainment series and concert
  • Community mural project
  • Expansion of artistic initiatives

Chelsea Chamber Players

  • Free Concert Series
  • Theatrical production for children

Chelsea District Library

  • Planning task force
  • Chelsea Reads Together
  • Oral history project
  • Three-day artist residency with writer Luis Rodriguez
  • COVID-19 emergency operating funds

Chelsea Education Foundation 

  • Helping Our Children Sail Through Adolescence seminar
  • Strategic Planning/Customer Survey

Chelsea Hockey Association

  • Hockey equipment for Learn to Play Program
  • Start Girls hockey program

Chelsea Recreation Council 

  • Timbertown Playground Project
  • Children's safety through CPR and other skill training for coaches and reconstruction of a baseball field
  • Renovate the baseball fields at Beach Middle School
  • Renovate baseball and softball fields

Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan

  • Schaible-Dils Silver Lining Fund to Support Silver Lining Fund of Silver Maples of Chelsea

COVID-19 Emergency operating funds


Eastern Michigan University/Institute for Community Regional Development

  • Community Forum
  • Robert Daniels Scholarship Fund

Fair Food Network

  • Assistance program greater access to local, fresh, healthy food choices
  • Expand Double Up Food Bucks healthy food incentive program in Chelsea

Faith In Action

  • Community Garden Project
  • COVID-19 emergency operating funds

First Congregational Church of Chelsea 

  • Performing arts outreach program
  • Chelsea Musical Celebration Concerts

Help Source 

  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters program

Hope Medical Clinic 

  • Satellite Chelsea Branch

Legacy Land Conservancy

  • Training on sustainable economic development strategies

Michigan Nonprofit Association

  • Capacity building services for nonprofit organizations in Chelsea

Neighborhood Senior Services 

  • Expand transportation services for older adults

St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea

  • Parish Nurse Program
  • Hospital campus pathways to increase connectivity and improve safety for residents
  • School-based obesity prevention program Chelsea School District
  • Design and installation of a walking route map on the side of Chelsea Market
  • Training for a youth substance abuse prevention program in Chelsea
  • SRSLY Chelsea
  • COVID-19 emergency operating funds

Township of Lyndon

  • Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association sustainable mountain biking trail system in the Waterloo State Recreation Area

United Methodist Retirement Communities 

  • Design and installation of the Heritage Room Project

UMRC Heritage Foundation

  • Educational materials & instructional equipment - support for depression/anxiety
  • 5k race to promote Chelsea and community wellness
  • Provide iPad library and classes for residents of

Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra

  • Music performance, education, and outreach program throughout Chelsea 

Baker College of Owosso

  • George L Palmer Scholarship Fund 

Catholic Social Services, Washtenaw County 

  • Respite program for older adults

Chelsea Area Festivals & Events 

  • COVID-19 emergency operating funds

Chelsea Area Historical Society

  • Support for the 1853 Boyd House acquisition for the museum’s permanent home
  • Firehouse to store an antique 1800’s fire wagon
  • Remodeling, professional displays to preserve collections

Chelsea School District 

  • Parents as Teachers Program 
  • Brewster & Emily Peabody Fund Scholarships
  • Chelsea Teen Network
  • Feasibility study to update athletic facilities
  • Reproductive health program at Chelsea High School 
  • Feasibility study for the development of a community center 
  • Public banners to promote the public schools' visual arts program
  • Creation of an Alumni Arbor at Chelsea High School 
  • #WhyYouMatter 
  • COVID-19 emergency operating funds

Chelsea Senior Center 

  • Expansion of fitness and nutrition programs 
  • Oral history project to preserve stories of individuals who attended one-room schools
  • Book discussion series 
  • Health and wellness project 
  • Volunteer-based system to support senior citizens in Chelsea 
  • COVID-19 emergency operating funds

City of Chelsea 

  • Downtown Historic District Project
  • Pedestrian/bicycle bridge at Veteran's Park, 
  • Timbertown playground restoration 
  • Exterior restoration of the Chelsea Depot 
  • Capacity building services for nonprofit organizations in Chelsea
  • Enhance Chelsea's historical education programming  
  • Design of Letts Linear Park 
  • Facility expansion for the Chelsea Historical Society 

Purple Rose Theatre Company

  • "Kid Purple" Theatre Touring program
  • New audience development plan 
  • Increase local youth access, education, and awareness of theatre arts and careers
  • New play development partnership with Chelsea District Library 
  • Play development partnership at five venues across Southeast Michigan 
  • Community engagement plan focused on diversifying program audiences 

Silver Maples of Chelsea

  • Educational materials & instructional equipment - support for depression/anxiety
  • Energy cost-reduction project
  • Free concert series for seniors 
  • Music programs to improve the quality of life for Chelsea seniors experiencing dementia and Alzheimer's disease 
  • Silver Lining Fund 

Special Olympics Michigan Inc 

  • District Basketball Tournament in Chelsea

State of Michigan 

  • Construction of nature play area and ADA accessible trail at the Eddy Discovery Center

St. Louis Center 

  • Employment opportunities program
  • Expand community activities program
  • Fitness program
  • Expand health and wellness programming for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • COVID-19 emergency operating funds 

Chelsea Retirement Community 

  • Training for caregivers and staff in "Positive Approach" program to reduce or avoid behavioral health challenges associated with late-stage dementia 
  • Support for arts engagement and instruction program 

University of Toledo

  • Brewster & Emily Peabody Fund Scholarships

Washtenaw Intermediate School District

  • Vocational program for students with disabilities 

Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE)/Chelsea Area Transportation System

  • Office Equipment and furniture 
  • Administrative Position 
  • Affordable lifeline transportation services 
  • Retrofitting for safe transportation
  • COVID-19 emergency operating funds

Young Adults Health Center 

  • Theatre Troupe/Peer Education Program on substance abuse to Chelsea School District

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.