Mercer Island Community Fund board member Sarah Cox represents the fund at a table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market, pre-COVID. Photo courtesy of Erin Sirianni’s My MI blog

Mercer Island Community Fund board member Sarah Cox represents the fund at a table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market, pre-COVID. Photo courtesy of Erin Sirianni’s My MI blog

Mercer Island Community Fund making an impact in the community

Fund has been a community builder for 35 years.

When Erin Krawiec moved to Mercer Island in 2015, she began looking for ways to contribute to her new city.

One day, a brochure arrived in her mail from the Mercer Island Community Fund (MICF) and it piqued her interest. She leafed through the pages and was impressed with how the fund was making an impact in the community.

“I was intrigued at the kinds of grants they were giving and I thought it would just be a good way to get involved in the community, meet people in the community and give back,” said Krawiec, who became involved with the fund and has been its president for the last two and a half years.

Formed 35 years ago by Lola Deane, the fund raises money annually from community members to provide grants that benefit the community in the arts, environment, community development, recreation, social services, education and health.

“We see ourselves now as community builders, and we want to be here for the community to not only grant projects that are happening out there — being put on by the amazing nonprofits that serve our communities — but also by leading in whatever way we can to inspire people in our community to donate, volunteer,” said Krawiec, who noted that MICF has an all-volunteer board of 14 members.

When COVID-19 hit in March, the fund led the WeLoveMI COVID-19 Relief Campaign, which raised more than $250,000 for Mercer Island nonprofits and small businesses. In addition, they awarded more than $53,000 in grants for COVID-19 relief to Island nonprofits.

Board members reached out to leaders at the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce, Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, the Mercer Island Schools Foundation and others to help roll out the relief campaign. A Mercer Island High School class made a vital contribution to the campaign’s success as well.

“It was so great for us to be working on that and being able to pivot in that way and to provide this very meaningful (campaign) to our community,” Krawiec said. “We were so proud of all of the partners that we brought in and the work that everybody did, and just watching that class and watching the community members step up and make the donations. It was a real coming-together of the community that was definitely needed at that time.”

Presently, MICF is raising funds that will be placed into its 2021 grant pool. Community members can make donations at www.micommunityfund.org, and the fund is looking to provide grants next year in the areas of COVID relief, community building and initiatives from groups that focus on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. The grant application deadline is Feb. 15.

MICF is also helping collect donations for the Illuminate MI project, which features trees being decorated with lights along 78th Avenue from Southeast 27th Street to Mercerdale Park during the holidays.

Krawiec said that the fund wants to be a driving force in the community regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Recently, MICF reached out to leaders of other community organizations to hold a Zoom meeting to discuss how they can collaborate to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on the Island.

As for MICF, it is interested in diversifying its board of directors so it can be more reflective of the community.

Krawiec said it was nice to see a community connection at that meeting and she was glad to be a part of the discussion.


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