Foundation Projects - Past and Present

Taking the Initiative

From its earliest days, the Michigan Municipal League Foundation takes a proactive stance to identify the unmet needs of Michigan’s local officials. This effort has resulted in a wide-range of publications, training programs, research projects and events. Below are some of the highlights of the Foundation’s work—past, present and future:

Research and Publications

Research & Publications Charter Revision – A database of charters in Michigan cities and villages. This led to the formation of the joint Charter Focus Group involving the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys (MAMA).

Handbook for Municipal Officials (in home-rule cities and villages) and Handbook for General Law Village Officials – Originally funded by the Foundation and published by the Michigan Municipal League, both of these are now free e-books for League members.

Ethics Handbook – Partially funded by the Foundation, the handbook seeks to inform local government decision makers about the importance of writing ethical standards of conduct in their governing documents. The handbook is a product of the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys.

Michigan River Partnership – Funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the C.S. Mott Foundation, this broad-based coalition of governmental and nongovernmental partners was formed to assess opportunities for dam removal in Michigan and provide stakeholders and decision makers with the information necessary to facilitate dam removal at the local level. The project included stakeholder participation, research, and strategy development. The result was a publication that raises awareness among decision makers about the challenges facing current dam owners who need to remove a dam due to safety, cost, and environmental factors. The goal is to improve funding opportunities to remove dams that have outlived their useful purpose.

Educational Programming

Cultural Economic Development – Through a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Foundation and the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries hosted a series of forums across the state. These forums fostered an educational conversation between local officials and those involved in arts. The conversation centered on  the importance of cultural economic development to the overall wellbeing of our communities, regions and state.

Public Management Institute – A panel gathered to discuss the pros and cons of having a state constitutional convention. The panel’s input was considered by the Michigan Municipal League’s “Con Con” Special Committee.

Michigan Municipal League Centennial Symposium – The Future of Local Government in Michigan—1999 conference—focused on the five most critical issues facing local governments, as identified by a diverse planning committee. This committee included representatives from the League, the governor’s office, academia, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and other leadership organizations.

Village Options Workshop – This Foundation-assisted event was sponsored by the League and the MAMA and focused on charter revision and amendment.

Elected Officials Training – The Foundation assists the League’seducation mission with significant financial support for newly elected officials to attend training sessions provided by the League. This includes the League’s Elected Officials Academy Core and Advanced Weekenders, the League Regional Education Seminars series, on-site seminars, and other League training programs. The Foundation has also received a grant from the Alcoa Foundation to make available the League’s Elected Officials Academy to local officials in areas of the state where Alcoa is located.

Enhancing Local Government Project – In 1998, the Foundation sought to revolutionize the way education and information services are delivered to Michigan’s 3,600+ locally elected officials. This led to the Enhancing Local Government (ELG) program. This program produced six CDs and held several workshops to provide municipal officeholders with vital information about their roles, responsibilities, and the issues confronting them. The CDs were part of an evolving “distance learning” program based on the idea that fully informed officials are empowered to make better decisions for their communities.

Ongoing Projects

Downtown Ann ArborCenter for 21st Century Communities – Through a grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the Foundation is administering the League's Center for 21st Century Communities or 21c3. Center programs include a series of public policy forums and educational workshops, as well as the implementation of a design center to serve as a resource clearinghouse for local communities. Investing in communities is an important element of any long-term economic development strategy. Local officials play a primary role in setting forth policies that can help to achieve community sustainability and improve quality of life as it relates to creating places that are attractive to live, work, learn and play. Capacity building of local officials and community leaders in this effort is of keen interest to the Michigan Municipal League and its members. The League's Center for 21st Century Communities will assist local officials in identifying, developing and implementing programs and strategies that will enhance the state’s communities as vibrant places for the 21st century.

Shared Public Services InitiativeIn a joint venture with the State of Michigan, the Foundation is helping implement the “Shared Public Services Initiative.” This initiative is a collaboration between the State of Michigan, the League, Michigan Townships Association, Association of Counties, the regions, and intermediate school districts. The initiative will give local governments and school districts  access to resources to develop and implement shared public services. Through this program, a business case and plan for more collaboration will be developed. The purpose of the initiative is to find alternative methods for delivering services to help maximize the value of taxpayer dollars for equal or better service at reduced cost and in a faster, more timely fashion. The Michigan Municipal League Foundation will take the lead and participate in this effort by providing services to local governments to assist them in their collaborative efforts. 


Downtown Kalamazoo

Scholarship Programs

Youth Scholarship Fund The Fund is designed to provide an opportunity for youth to attend the annual NLC Congress of Cities and participate in youth delegate workshops with public officials from across the country. Original funding for the scholarships was from the Dennis Archer Fund, established in 2000 to honor the work of former Detroit Mayor, League Board member and National League of Cities President Dennis Archer. The scholarships are currently funded by the Merrill-Zona Bailey Fund established in 2006 from Merrill Bailey, former Norton Shores Mayor and MML President.

George D. Goodman Public Service Scholarship Fund Established in 2005 to recognize Mr. Goodman’s 22 years of service as executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. The purpose of the fund is to encourage young people to pursue careers in public services. Assistance is made to high school and college students to attend national and Michigan local government conventions and seminars; pursue goals that enhance local government; or pursue a public policy or public administration degree.

Tim Doyle Scholarship Fund As a councilmember in Durand and an Elected Officials Academy (EOA) board member, Tim was an ardent supporter of elected official’s training. Upon his passing in 2008, the EOA board resolved that Tim be honored through an educational scholarship program.


Annual Silent Auction – From 1993 to 2013, the League Foundation has hosted a silent auction at the Michigan Municipal League’s Annual Convention. The nearly $100,000 raised by this popular event has been used to support the Foundation’s general fund and to respond to special requests from the League and other government-related organizations in Michigan. In 2001, the Foundation’s board of directors broke with tradition and designated that all funds generated by the 2001 auction would be used to support 9/11 recovery efforts. Then, in 2005, silent auction proceeds were used to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

The Power of Knowledge Campaign – An ongoing focus of the Foundation is a fundraising campaign to establish an educational endowment. This permanent, self-sustaining fund will make in-service education and training available, accessible and affordable to all local officials in Michigan. Interest income from the endowment will be used to provide hands-on training programs, deliver ongoing educational materials via the League website, and subsidize the cost of both traditional off-site training and web-based program development. Courses will be offered on topics that directly impact local government.


For more information contact:
Deborah Walton Medley at 734-669-6370 or