To do its part to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission, The Pokagon Fund offices will be closed to walk-in traffic until further notice. TPF staff members remain available for telephone and electronic communication during this time:

Dan Petersen, Executive Director, (269) 612-8746 or (269) 469-9322,

Kaären Cass, Grants/Finance Administrator, (269) 469-9322,

For regular updates on the local COVID19 response, see the Berrien County Health Department’s webpage that is dedicated to the subject at

2018 Harbor Country Community Needs Assessment Report

Grantee Spotlight
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New Buffalo Railroad Museum

To support a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the New Buffalo Railroad Museum, The Pokagon Fund Board of Directors granted a conditional $5,000 grant to support the costs of relocation and refurbishment of a caboose as a permanent display at the Museum’s site. CSX Transportation will be donating the caboose to the New Buffalo Railroad Museum and it is scheduled to arrive in July of 2019.


Spring Creek School Project

An enthusiastic group of like-minded historians in Three Oaks Township are working diligently to preserve an 1886 one-room schoolhouse that sits at the intersection of Three Oaks and Donner Roads. A grant of $20,000 from The Pokagon Fund will be used to assist in the project that will enable the school to be an educational site for local students and families

Three Kids

Hartford Public Schools

The Pokagon Fund has partnered with Hartford Public Schools on a project to build classroom libraries of age-appropriate books for children Kindergarten through 5th grade. The proposed project is to provide sufficient and abundant classroom libraries to all elementary classrooms at Redwood Elementary School.

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Dowagiac District Library

The Dowagiac District Library and The Pokagon Fund have partnered together to expand the Little Free Libraries Program throughout Dowagiac. The Little Free Libraries of Dowagiac are community drop boxes of literature that run on the honor system of “take a book, leave a book.” Soon, the LFL system of Dowagiac will have 12 additional locations.

Our Focus

Enhancing the lives of the residents in the New Buffalo Area

Enhancing the lives of the residents in Three Oaks, Chikaming and New Buffalo Townships, Dowagiac and Hartford, Michigan as well as South Bend, Indiana.

The Founders of The Pokagon Fund believe that encouraging the development of those communities bordering the Tribal trust land consolidation sites is a wonderful opportunity to create a better place for all of our residents to thrive.

The Pokagon Fund provides strategic grant support to initiatives that help reduce the burden of poverty, strengthen our local schools and student achievement, enhance the success of our residents and provide vital support to our rural communities.

Grants are awarded to charitable organizations, governmental entities and service organizations serving residents in Three Oaks, Chikaming and New Buffalo Townships, Dowagiac and Hartford, Michigan as well as South Bend, Indiana. Although The Pokagon Fund awards grants to South Bend, it no longer accepts unsolicited grants from organizations. Please refer to letter written by The Pokagon Fund Executive Director to South Bend grantees at link below.

The Pokagon Fund has three focus areas for funding: Education, Poverty Reduction and Community Vitality.

Letter to South Bend Grantees

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The Pokagon Fund’s commitment to education is reflected in the award since 2007 of over $2.5 million in grants, including scholarships, to the New Buffalo and River Valley School Systems, representing over 10% of the $23 million that has been awarded by the Fund to date. Consistent with its determination that education is a primary area of greatest need for local residents, the Fund has set as one of its key goals the preparation of our youngest children to have a successful educational experience.

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Poverty Reduction

Statistics reveal that the rates of poverty in Berrien County for both the overall population (17.7%) and for children (26.2%) exceed both national and state levels. Approximately one out of five local families in this area is food insecure. Over 10% of the households in Berrien County have incomes of less than $15,000. The Pokagon Fund has committed to using its resources to provide food to the needy and to help reduce the overall poverty rate by supporting resource and referral services.

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Community Vitality

Fostering Community Vitality involves improving the quality of life, lifting the spirits, and increasing the happiness of a community. As The Pokagon Fund implements its new strategic plan, it will continue to contribute to projects, both large and small, that enrich and enhance the lives of Harbor Country® residents. These may range from larger collaborative efforts with our local municipalities to participate in the building of parks and expand conservation areas to smaller projects that enhance the local capacity of the area. The Pokagon Fund has been and will remain a vital element in the enrichment of the lives of those it serves.