2023 Community Trailblazer Award: Applications Under Review

Michigan Founders Fund is a network of trailblazers, disruptors, and problem-solvers in Michigan’s startup ecosystem who believe in the power of collective action. We are united by a common vision for Michigan to become the most successful and equitable state in the country – not only for startups, but for everyone who lives here. Our fund is generated by MFF Members (startup founders and investors) who commit 1% of their equity, profits, or carry to the MFF Community Impact Fund. These commitments generate a permanent stream of charitable capital for Michigan communities within our impact areas. Learn more about our impact work here.

This year, we will recognize three Community Trailblazers from across Michigan – grassroots organizers, community-based founders, and movement builders – who are working within our impact areas to receive a $5,000 award and become a MFF Trailblazer Member. Learn more about our 2022 awardees here.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be the founder or part of a founding team of their community-based organization or initiative;
  • Work to advance one of MFF’s impact areas: (1) Local talent development, (2) socially and economically disadvantaged tech founders, and (3) racial equity (learn more about our impact areas here);
  • Be part of a socially and economically disadvantaged group. We define socially and economically disadvantaged individuals as women, non-binary people, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, Black, Indigenous or People of Color, rural residents, immigrants, or refugees;
  • Live in and lead work in Michigan.

Current Members of MFF and 2022 Community Trailblazer Awardees are not eligible for this award. 

All applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Sunday, September 17. We recommend you view the full application here before submitting online. 

The application deadline has passed and applications are now under review.

Applicants are encouraged to read all information outlined below and participate in one of our virtual, 30 – 45 minute informational sessions:

Have a question? Review our FAQ or join an info session.

Award Details: What to expect as an MFF Trailblazer Member

Awardees will receive their financial contributions by October 31, 2023 and will formally be part of the program through September 2024.

As an awardee, MFF Trailblazer Members can expect to:

  • Receive a one-time contribution of $5,000 from MFF; 
  • Report outcomes, metrics, and success stories in a summer 2024 call, meeting, or survey (these outcomes will be showcased in at least one MFF blog and in a short feature in our annual impact report);
  • Provide written content, photos, and links to share on the MFF website, social media, and via the annual MFF Giving Tuesday campaign (individual donations are not guaranteed);
  • Participate in an estimated three MFF-hosted events per year and meet 1-1 at least twice a year with MFF Members and/or other awardees to foster relationship building and network growth; 
  • Follow-through on any introductions made through the MFF network (i.e. potential funders, tech support, etc.).

Trailblazer Members will also have the opportunity to:

  • Hire a paid college-level intern for a technical role via the 2024 MFF summer internship program and receive $1,000 in financial support to cover a portion of the intern’s pay (optional);
  • Co-host a problem-solving sessions with tech founders and their teams (optional);
  • Utilize tech tools created by founders (optional).

After September 2024, awardees can continue to engage with the MFF network within our community guidelines as long as they are interested.

Through this initiative, MFF intends to: 

  • Make a one-time contribution of $5,000 to the awardee/the awardee’s organization and facilitate opportunities to receive individual contributions from Members through our annual Giving Tuesday campaign and, potentially other initiatives (though individual donations are not guaranteed);
  • Promote the awardee and awardee’s organization on our website, social media platforms, and at least one blog/article;
  • Create opportunities for awardees to build relationships with tech founders at MFF events and programs;
  • Support networking opportunities and make direct introductions to at least two potential funders in Michigan; 
  • Create an opportunity for awardees to hire college-level interns for technical roles via the 2024 MFF summer internship program and receive $1,000 in financial support to support the intern’s pay (optional);
  • Create an opportunity to for awardees to host problem-solving sessions with tech founders/their teams (optional);
  • Create an opportunity to gain access to tech tools created by founders (optional).

Application & Award Timeline

  •  Aug 2 – Sep 17: Applications open, with the opportunity to join a 30-45 minute virtual informational session
  • Sep 18 – Oct 4: Applications under review. Candidates and/or references may be contacted to participate in 15 – 20 minute phone call with MFF staff to clarify application questions and review participation expectations
  • By Oct 9: Awardees and all applicants will be notified of their status
  • Oct 10 at 7:30 pm: Awardees will be announced in-person in Ann Arbor during the MFF Reception happening in parallel to Michigan Tech Week.
  • Oct 16 from 4:00 – 5:30 pm: Awardees participate in a virtual onboarding call with other new MFF Members
  • By Oct 31: Awardees will receive $5,000 contribution

*All aforementioned applications, dates, times, schedule, grant amounts and award activities may be subject to change at Michigan Founders Fund’s sole discretion.

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