Foundation invites inventors to showcase their ideas for chance at grant

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby-Utica News | Published June 20, 2023

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Four County Community Foundation is all ears when it comes to hearing about local inventors and their innovative solutions to problems.

The foundation, which includes Shelby Township, has launched a new initiative this year called the 4CCF Spark Grant. Applicants, including individuals and nonprofit groups, can apply to present an in-person proposal to a panel of 4CCF committee members who will have a pool of $40,000 to award.

Each pitch will include a five-minute question-and-answer session involving the applicant and the panel.

The format, meant to be similar to that of the television show “Shark Tank,” is designed to be more interactive than a traditional grant application process and is open to projects in all stages of development, according to the foundation.

Ken Hummel, the chairman of the foundation’s Board of Trustees, said that the foundation is hoping to reach inventors who might have a great idea.

“We are really hoping this new initiative sparks interest with people in our community that want to do good things but may not know where to start or are intimidated by the normal grant writing process. We are excited to see what ideas are brought forward,” Hummel stated in a press release.

From July 1 to Aug. 31, inventors will be able to complete a survey that explains their ideas. Inventors can email the foundation’s executive director, Kathy Dickens, at for a link to the survey.

The review committee will choose finalists to make their pitches to the panel of 4CCF committee members. All finalists will be notified by Sept. 13.

The foundation’s pitch night will begin at 5 p.m. Sept. 28 at a location that is still to be determined.

Dickens said she understands how intimidating the process can be to bring forth an invention.

“Four County Community Foundation realizes that people with innovative ideas to do community good can be intimidated by the traditional grant application process. The 4CCF Spark Grant is our attempt to make the grant process more accessible and interactive.  We can’t wait to engage with local innovators,” she said via email.

Hummel said the foundation is really excited to try this new concept. 

“We realize that many people in our communities have great ideas … but just need a spark to ignite them into existence. We are hoping this initiative attracts those folks,” he said in an email.

For more information, call (810) 444-8852.