Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does it mean to spend down your funds?
Many foundations are based on endowments, and they make grants based on the income generated from a large existing fund of money.  By contrast, The Pokagon Fund receives money each year from the Four Winds Casino, and under the terms of our governing documents, we are required to give the majority of it away as grants.  When our source of funding ends, our grant-making abilities will cease as well. This is referred to as spending-down funds.  Private foundations are legally required to spend 5% of their assets each year.  If a foundation is spending down its funds, it means that it is spending more than the required 5%.   

How much is the source of your revenues declining?  What were the terms of the contract?
The Pokagon Fund was created by an agreement between the City of New Buffalo, New Buffalo Township and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi citizens.  According to the agreement, The Pokagon Fund received 2% of the Net Win during the first and second year of operation of Class III electric games of chance; 1% in the third, fourth and fifth years; and .75% in each subsequent year.  In other words, during the Fund’s first seven years of operation, the annual sharing of slot machines was reduced from 2% to .75%.  In terms of dollars, annual revenue fell from a high of $6,000,000 in 2008 to just over $2,000,000 in 2013, and revenues are still declining. In August of 2014, the Fund announced new procedures for awarding grants to address the decrease in revenues. Those procedures included restricting most grants to $10,000 or less and limiting grant awards to four times a year.

A document describing the creation of the foundation, the source and amount of funding, and the distribution of funds to various municipalities can be found on our website, www.pokagonfund.org. Please note this document does not describe the creation of the Local Revenue Sharing Board, which is a completely different entity from The Pokagon Fund.  

What specifically will you look for in each of your focus areas?
While we have identified the following three programming areas for funding, it is clear that we remain open to other ideas that will support the following initiatives.

Education: Supporting student academic achievement
Kindergarten readiness
Third grade literacy
School system reform initiatives
Youth and adult scholarships
New initiatives

Poverty Reduction: Supporting families living in poverty
Food security
Job training
Employment opportunities support
Research and referral services
New initiatives

Community Vitality:  Supporting the process of capacity-building
Leadership training
Harbor Country-based programs and projects
Municipal projects
New initiatives

Will you still field requests from organizations outside of the three primary focus areas?
Yes. We recognize the value of many Harbor Country programs, and each year we will set aside a portion of our funds under Community Vitality for smaller, local projects that support our overall mission of enhancing the lives of residents in Harbor Country®.  

Will you continue to award continuing education scholarships?
Yes, we will. Scholarships will be awarded annually to students who live in The Pokagon Fund service area and who are graduating from either River Valley or New Buffalo High Schools. Scholarships are renewable if the student maintains a 3.0 grade point average. 

The Pokagon Fund will also offer Adult Scholarships for non-traditional or returning students who wish to continue their education. As with the student scholarships listed above, adult applicants must live in The Pokagon Fund service area.

What are your grant-making guidelines?
The Pokagon Fund accepts applications for funding from municipalities, nonprofits, charities, and other organizations. We require all applicants to apply by downloading and emailing the proper application form, which can be found in the How to Apply section of our website, www.pokagonfund.org.

The next grant application deadline is October 15, 2016. Over the next year, the Fund will transition to an online grant application system, which will require grantees to apply for grants and file their final reports online. An announcement will be forthcoming.

How do the funding issues described in your letter differ from the Local Revenue Sharing Board? 
According to the Local Agreement, the Local Revenue Sharing Board gets 2% of Net Win of operation of Class III electric games of chance. The Board’s sole function is to determine and make allocations of the tribal payments to each of the member municipalities. Click on this link for additional information: http://www.cityofnewbuffalo.org/lrsb.asp.
What/where are the other casinos you mention as being competitive to the Four Winds?
In addition to the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, there are smaller casinos in Dowagiac and Hartford, Michigan, and a fourth is set to open in South Bend, Indiana in the near future. While these smaller casinos were not included in our original agreement with the Pokagon Band, and we do not receive funds from their operations, we do provide support to these communities.  
Why don’t you just continue funding requests as you have previously, with the understanding that each organization may just keep getting a bit less?
Our goal is to ensure that the benefits of The Pokagon Fund continue to help residents for generations to come. We believe that focusing on education, poverty reduction and community vitality will best help us accomplish that mission.   

Does the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo engage in grant-making?  
The Pokagon Fund and the Four Winds Casino operate as two separate entities. The Four Winds Casino is actively engaged in grant-making through their Governmental and Community Affairs Department. Please contact the casino for more information.