Midland’s Downtown & Riverfront
To avoid the trend of downtown decline, the Gerstacker Foundation has taken a leading role in the renaissance of Midland’s downtown and riverfront. It and other contributors have realized a vision to transform downtown Midland into a vibrant hub of business and recreational activity. Attractions include the Tridge, Gerstacker Sprayground, Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, Riverside Place senior housing, Farmer’s Market, skate park, conference center and hotel, canoe livery and Currie Golf Course – all enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors every year.
For most people, growing old means less income and mobility, which is why many move into senior citizen housing – if it’s available. Thanks in part to Eda Gerstacker’s determination, Midland County has outstanding, affordable housing for the elderly – including The King’s Daughters Home, Washington Woods, Riverside Place and Pere Marquette Senior Estates in Coleman. Senior housing remains a cornerstone of Gerstacker Foundation giving and has led to the support of related activities, such as the Affordable Housing Alliance, Habitat for Humanity and Midland Area Homes.
Today’s families face a growing number of social and economic challenges that can’t be resolved through government funding alone. To help address those challenges, the Gerstacker Foundation contributes heavily to organizations that unite families, prevent violence, address disabilities, stop substance and physical abuse, and promote educational opportunities. Examples include the Foundation’s support of three Midland-area community and family centers: the David Reece Memorial Fund, the Ten-Sixteen Treatment Centers and the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Inspiring and maintaining a love for education is no easy feat. It’s made easier, however, with contributions from the Gerstacker Foundation, which has a long history of supporting K-12 education in Midland and other communities. Foundation funding enables the school system and teachers to initiate projects that would not otherwise be possible. These range from unique teaching activities and a new auditorium, to science additions, stadium upgrades and school renovations.
Eda Gerstacker, a teacher by profession, firmly believed in the value of a quality college education. In this spirit, the Gerstacker Foundation has supported more than 30 public and private colleges and predominantly African American colleges. Most college grantees are in Michigan and range from Albion, Alma and Northwood University to Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. Ohio colleges include Hiram and Wooster.
Although the Gerstacker Foundation is not affiliated with any single religious group, it applauds activities that benefit our communities and give our youth self-confidence and respect for others. It therefore supports several faithbased organizations that have similar goals, including the Salvation Army, SpringHill Camps, University of Michigan Hillel, Young Life, St. Brigid Catholic Church and the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Cleveland – an inner-city mission church that Eda Gerstacker attended.
The work of the Gerstacker Foundation has always been focused on children, preparing them for lives of useful service. This has been done by funding activities that inspire leadership, and that also help troubled youth find the way. Examples include the Midland Soccer Complex, the Michigan 4-H Foundation, the Starr Commonwealth for Boys, Eagle Village,Big Brothers Big Sisters in the Heart of Michigan, and The ROCK Youth Center.
Health Care and Advanced Research
Two areas of major support from the Gerstacker Foundation are health care and advanced, non-profit research. The Foundation believes immediate care for physically and mentally impaired people is just as important as innovative research for future cures and treatments. More than 30 diverse health care organizations benefit from Gerstacker funding. These range from its largest grantee, MidMichigan Health, to the Association for Children’s Mental Health, Neighborhood Clinic, Arthritis Foundation, National Parkinson Foundation and Alzheimer’s Association.
Environment and Conservation
The Gerstacker Foundation is a strong believer in progress, but not at the expense of the environment. For this reason, the Foundation supports more than a dozen programs that educate the public and preserve the environment for centuries to come. Programs range from the Chippewa Nature Center and The Nature Conservancy to a unique Wildlife Recovery program, the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative, Little Forks Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and American Farmland Trust.
Arts & Culture
To encourage creativity and provide enriching experiences, the Gerstacker Foundation supports a number of cultural endeavors in Midland and other communities. These include the Midland Center for the Arts, Matrix:Midland, Tridge Summer Concerts, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Brazosport Fine Arts Council (in Texas), The Dairy Center for the Arts (Boulder), Chinese Cultural Ongoing Program (Midland) and Michigan Jazz Trail Festival.
The men and woman in public service work hard to enhance their communities, sometimes putting their own lives at risk. To support public service and fill the gaps in limited budgets, the Gerstacker Foundation offers funding to many worthy groups and programs, including the Michigan State Police, Midland County firefighters, Midland County Law Enforcement Center, Midland County D.A.R.E. group and the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team.
Public Policy Intiatives
To preserve our democratic freedoms and way of life, the Gerstacker Foundation supports a variety of nonpartisan think tanks and other groups at the national and state levels. These organizations objectively evaluate public policy issues, and share their findings with decision makers and the public to help people make informed decisions. Grantees range from the American Enterprise Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to Economics America of Michigan, Chemical Heritage Foundation and the Heritage Foundation.