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Small Grants RFP to Fund Eight Copper Country Projects

June 14, 2022 | By Michael H. Babcock

A record number of applications came in for Portage Health Foundation’s annual Small Grants Request for Proposals (RFP), and after much deliberation eight projects throughout the Copper Country will receive funding.

The programs include park improvements, support dogs for area schools, a unique program meant to improve elder wellness at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and more. All funding will help improve the health of community members of nearly every age. Below is an introduction to the eight projects that were funded. PHF would like to thank all of those who applied for funding and urge them to keep the foundation in mind for future needs.

Elder Wellness Program by Keweenaw Bay Indian Community ($3,000)

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) will use funds to create and deliver a summer elder and area senior wellness program. The Elder Wellness Program will tailor its wellness services to support initiatives put forth by Indian Health Services (IHS). IHS works to support the emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing of Tribal Elders. In addition, wellness classes will be designed with Health Aging guidelines published by the National Institute on Aging.

District Support Dog for Adams Township Schools ($3,000)

Adams Township Schools will soon have access to a support dog that will provide a source of positive reinforcement for students of all ages. The support dog is hoped to be motivating, stimulating and provide an additional layer of support for focusing on learning. The dog will be handled by K-12 Art Educator Paige Lewandowski, which will allow the dog to see students in both the elementary school and the middle/high school.

Outside Classroom Renovation for Calumet Art Center ($3,000)

The Calumet Art Center will use funding to create an outdoor space for learning and creating. They will use this space for classes that not only give the opportunity to learn new skills, but also give adults and children a chance to socialize. The renovated space will give a courtyard environment, with an outdoor water spicket to water the lawn and gardens, and an in-ground fire pit to fire pottery, make copper bowls and use as a social gathering space.

District Support Dog for Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools ($1,500)

Bolt the Service DogThis year students at Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools have enjoyed the presence of Bolt – the school’s new therapy dog (pictured here). Bolt is still a puppy and because of that wasn’t in full duty this year, but he’s already assisting by providing critical tools for learning, engaging in social relationships, and behavior and emotional regulation during these critical years in a student’s emotional development. This funding is helping to provide veterinary care, training and supplies to make sure Bolt is ready for full-time duty in the fall.

Drinking Fountain at Driving Park for City of Hancock ($3,000)

One of the busiest areas for summer youth athletic activities is getting an upgrade with a new water fountain. The fountain will include a water bottle filling station and is a joint effort between grant funds from PHF, fundraisers by sports teams and the City of Hancock’s Recreation Millage funds. The city will install and maintain the new fountain that will provide clean, safe drinking water for users of the ball fields and surrounding outdoor recreation opportunities like Maasto Hiihto Trails and the new dog park.

Gipp Playground Improvement for Village of Laurium ($3,000)

The Village of Laurium will use funds to upgrade the playground at the Gipp Recreation Park. The park will now meet the needs of individuals with special needs and requirements with the installation of a handicap swing. The long-term impact of this improvement will provide a greater quality of life for Laurium and surrounding residents that would benefit from this type of equipment.

Live Search Team Tracking Devices for Superior Search & Rescue ($3,000)

The volunteers at Superior Search and Rescue will be a little safer after a $3,000 grant to purchase new Garmin Inreach GPS units. The units will be used by teams in the field for navigation and replace units that are starting to fail. The new units will not only provide updated maps for the volunteers, but they provide the ability to live track teams in the field in a small handheld unit. During a missing person incident, time is of the essence and every minute counts, having live data of a team’s location will allow for less confusion and improve the team’s ability to succeed in their mission.

Nature Trail Improvements for Ontonagon Area Schools ($700)

Students at Ontonagon Area Schools have been enjoying their fitness/hiking/nature trails west of the school for a long time, and this summer they will be able to do some much-needed repairs thanks to $700 in funding. The funding will buy the materials, which will be used by volunteers to do repairs to two failing and currently dangerous bridges. In the end, it will result in trail loops that will once again be safe for year-round use. 


The Small Grants Program allows for grants up to $3,000. It was announced on March 14 with applications due on April 8. The winners were chosen by the Foundation’s Grants Management Committee. The community is invited to subscribe to the Portage Health Foundation email newsletter to make sure they find out about future funding opportunities as soon as possible. You can subscribe free at Learn more about grant opportunities at

Michael H. Babcock

Michael H. Babcock