The Pokagon Fund's Executive Director’s Letters
Tpf Decade 19 Execdir Hd

Annual Report 2018


The Pokagon Fund’s 2018 Annual Report looks forward to the “Next Decade” and may be accessed by clicking here.


If the past is truly prologue, the Next Decade of philanthropic activity by The Pokagon Fund® will see a continued effort to reach out with its symbolic “three hands” through three strategic goals: to support education; to serve those in need; and to enhance community vitality for the residents of Harbor Country and the communities of Dowagiac, Hartford and South Bend that surround the Pokagon Band’s trust land consolidation sites.

During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the Fund’s Board of Directors served as a catalyst in support of the Harbor Country community’s efforts to identify and assess the pressing needs for future growth and prosperity. The following sections of this report highlight the projects that will bring change in the Next Decade.

Sadly, I will not be directly involved in The Pokagon Fund’s Next Decade due to family obligations that require me to be full-time at my home base of Grand Rapids. I leave my position as Executive Director with a heavy heart, but with unforgettable memories of working with and for a Board of Directors dedicated to its mission, collaborating with municipal leaders committed to their constituents’ needs and supporting charitable organizations that strive to make the world a better place.

The past four years have been some of the best of my professional life, primarily due to the broadminded, receptive and inclusive approach The Pokagon Fund Board has taken in allowing me to play a leadership role in the implementation of its strategic visioning. On a deeply personal level, I have found joy in getting to know and working with the members of the Pokagon Band who have acquainted me with their rich heritage, their respect for Elders and their indomitable spirit that has sustained them for countless generations.

Thank you, migwéch, for all the memories.

Janet Cocciarelli Executive Director

Celebrating A Decade Of Partnerships Annual Report 2017

Annual Report 2017


The theme of The Pokagon Fund’s 2017 Annual Report is “Celebrating a Decade of Partnerships”, which may be accessed by clicking here.


Over the years, the three hands in The Pokagon Fund logo have become a familiar site in Harbor Country. The image of the three hands can be seen from many different perspectives. From my viewpoint, the hands symbolize hope, transparency and a willingness to work together by forming partnerships for the common good.

Partnerships can be formed between municipalities, by nonprofit and business entities, or with like-minded individuals seeking to improve their communities. For the past decade, The Pokagon Fund has used its funding as a catalyst to foster the formation of diverse partnerships that have created wonderful projects and initiatives throughout Harbor Country. As a result, the Fund has become the hub of philanthropy for Harbor Country, connecting diverse leaders, ideas and resources.

In the next few pages, you will read about some of those partnerships. They include collaborative efforts that were formed between churches and prisons to support incarcerated youth, between outdoor recreation programs and artists to inspire creative expression from children with disabilities, and between nutritionists and social workers to provide warm meals to elders who are home-bound.

Partnerships are like beautiful fabrics that are woven from threads of compassion, modesty, enterprise, authenticity and perspicacity. As The Pokagon Fund celebrates its first decade of philanthropy, it looks toward the next decade with the hope of finding fresh ways to inspire and support innovative partnerships in our three major funding focus areas of education, community vitality and helping those in need toward a better life.

Janet Cocciarelli

Executive Director

Photo Progress Through Partnerships

Annual Report 2016


Celebrating a decade of “Progress through Partnerships” is the theme of The Pokagon Fund’s 2016 Annual Report, which may be accessed by clicking this link. The report provides a year-end summary of the Fund’s activities in partnership with our grantees, a record of awards and issues supported during the 2015-2016 fiscal year and a description of the positive impact that our collective contributions have had on those served within Harbor Country, Dowagiac, Hartford and South Bend.

The centerpiece of our report is a reprise and overview of the remarkable improvements in the quality of life of the residents in the communities served by the Fund since the opening of the Four Winds Casino Resort in 2007. These enhancements have resulted from the generosity of the Pokagon Band, the foresight of the leaders of the City of New Buffalo and New Buffalo Township and the creativity of the many individuals and organizations that have joined in partnership with The Pokagon Fund on projects large and small.

We celebrate our collaborations with diverse community-based organizations that have accomplished extraordinary feats, including establishing beautiful public parks, feeding the hungry and increasing literacy among our youth. Examples include the development of Galien River County Park and its spectacular viewing tower, the daily provision of hot meals, grocery and personal items to our neighbors in need and construction of New Buffalo Township Library.

We extend a special note of gratitude to those charities that not only assist families and individuals living in poverty, but also track and provide services to residents who earn more than the poverty line but less than the basic cost of living. Often hidden from view, but known to these service providers, such low-income families are benefited by unwavering advocacy.

We know that reducing the overall rate of poverty is a public good that strengthens the middle class, enriches human capital by allowing greater access to higher education and increases family stability. Such projects are at the core of what The Pokagon Fund has meant to the communities it serves.

What has been learned from the achievements of the last ten years is that meaningful results are more likely to be attained when The Pokagon Fund partners with those who are embedded in the local community and have an unbridled dedication to the success of their projects. When there is open and honest communication, room around the table for all interested parties and a willingness to compromise to achieve a common goal, such partnerships have flourished.

With the future focus of the Fund’s resources centered on education, poverty reduction and community vitality, we are particularly excited about the recent launch of the Neighbor By Neighbor project, a local effort to connect individuals in need to social services. Led by the Church of the Mediator in Harbert, but open to all, the service will put local families in contact with the support agencies they need.

The Pokagon Fund looks forward to the next decade of innovative partnerships.

Please share your ideas. We want to hear from you.

Janet Cocciarelli

Executive Director