Crowdfunding campaign launched for the MI Folk School Campus in Ann Arbor

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

$40,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

LANSING, Mich. – Ann Arbor’s Michigan Folk School will gain a wood workshop and blacksmith studio with the help of a crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Folk School announced today. The campaign is being offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. The project is part of a larger development plan which will include a working farmstead, public trailways, gardens, a fishing pier, playground, and facilitate year-round workshops.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $40,000 by December 15, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit:

“This space will cultivate collective knowledge and skills as well as providing a space to enjoy the area’s natural resources,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Katharine Czarnecki. “The Public Spaces Community Places program is pleased to provide resources for and serve as a partner in this effort.”

The Michigan Folk School facilitates the teaching and learning of old-school skills like blacksmithing, woodworking, foraging, canning, animal husbandry and more. The new wood workshop and blacksmith studio will be open to the public and will offer communal programming including introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses in woodworking, wilderness survival skills, blacksmithing, welding, and metal art.

Funding raised during this campaign will specifically repurpose, remodel, and supply the studio, but it will also serve as the catalyst that will activate funds to bring the campus to completion. The entire campus will offer preservation on a personal, public, and environmental scale. Once the goal is met, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission will meet and exceed the contributions by building additional space and providing other improvements.

“The Public Spaces Community Places program will enable us directly to repurpose a 1947 workshop into a modern handwork woodshop and blacksmithing studio. We will use these studios to offer folk courses and workshops taught by masters of craft, as well as studio space for the community to perfect their craft,” said Jason Gold, director of the Michigan Folk School. “But the grant will do more than just repurpose a building, it will initiate a community campus. Once we raise the $40,000, and PSCP matches this amount, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission will install parking, septic and fields, wells, and accessible sidewalks throughout the campus area. It will also trigger WCPRC to build a multi-purpose buildings to be used by the folk school for additional community and visitor programming and studio space.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at

“Education is one of the assets the Michigan Municipal League has identified as vital to making placemaking happen in a community,” said Dan Gilmartin, League CEO and executive director. “The planned build out of the Michigan Folk School campus will tremendously enhance the education and overall experience in Ann Arbor for many. With the public’s support this project will be a source of pride for years to come.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of October 31, 2017, MEDC has provided $4,117,333 in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 143 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with nearly $5 million raised from 25,980 individual donors.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.