ann arbor nonprofits

12 Inspiring Ann Arbor Nonprofits Championing Change

Ann Arbor, Michigan, renowned for its vibrant culture and academic excellence, also boasts a dynamic array of nonprofits committed to enhancing the well-being of its community. These organizations address a wide range of issues from food security and homelessness to cultural enrichment and environmental sustainability.

This article delves into the missions, histories, and impacts of notable Ann Arbor nonprofits, each playing a pivotal role in fostering a more inclusive and prosperous community. Their efforts not only meet immediate community needs but also build a foundation for lasting social change.

Ann Arbor Nonprofits Championing Change

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: Food Gatherers aims to alleviate hunger and tackle its root causes by rescuing food and promoting food security initiatives within the community.
  • History: Established in 1988, it pioneered food rescue operations in Michigan, quickly expanding its reach and capacity to address hunger effectively.
  • Impact: Each year, it distributes millions of pounds of food, significantly decreasing food insecurity and improving the lives of many in Washtenaw County.

2. Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: The orchestra seeks to enrich the local culture by providing inspiring musical performances and programs that cultivate a love of classical music.
  • History: Since its establishment in 1928, it has grown into a prominent cultural institution, renowned for its community engagement and educational outreach.
  • Impact: Reaches thousands of community members annually, particularly young people, through concerts and educational initiatives, fostering a lifelong appreciation for music.

3. Peace Neighborhood Center

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: Dedicated to supporting vulnerable individuals and families by offering programs that foster health, education, and economic stability.
  • History: Operating since 1971, the center has been a cornerstone in providing support to those affected by socioeconomic challenges in Ann Arbor.
  • Impact: Annually assists more than 1,200 individuals, significantly enhancing their health, educational outcomes, and employment prospects.

4. Avalon Housing

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: Avalon Housing commits to creating and sustaining supportive housing communities to serve as long-term solutions for homelessness.
  • History: Founded in 1992, it has developed more than 300 housing units, addressing the critical need for stable housing in the community.
  • Impact: Provides essential services and housing to hundreds annually, greatly improving their quality of life and fostering community integration.

5. Ozone House

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: Ozone House offers a safe haven and crucial support services for young people facing homelessness or life crises.
  • History: Started in 1969 with a focus on at-risk youth, it has been a pivotal resource for young people in need of urgent support.
  • Impact: Provides emergency shelter, long-term housing solutions, and comprehensive support services, positively affecting the lives of numerous youths and their families each year.

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6. The Ark

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: The Ark enhances community spirit and cultural enrichment through live music and artistic performances.
  • History: Since its founding in 1965, The Ark has become a beloved cultural venue in Ann Arbor, known for its intimate setting and rich musical offerings.
  • Impact: Hosts more than 300 live performances yearly, drawing diverse audiences and nurturing the local music scene.

7. Neutral Zone

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: The Neutral Zone is dedicated to providing a dynamic and collaborative space where teens can explore and develop their potential through arts, leadership, and cultural activities.
  • History: Initiated in 1998 by teens, for teens, it was designed to offer a supportive environment where young people can freely express themselves and their ideas.
  • Impact: Each year, it attracts hundreds of teens who participate in a variety of programs that enhance their creativity, leadership skills, and community engagement.

8. Ele’s Place

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: Ele’s Place commits to supporting grieving children and their families by providing a compassionate space that promotes healing through peer support and tailored programming.
  • History: Founded in 1991, inspired by personal loss, it aims to address the needs of bereaved children across the community.
  • Impact: Offers critical grief support and counseling to numerous families, helping children navigate their emotions and begin the healing process after the loss of a loved one.

9. Leslie Science & Nature Center

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: This center strives to inspire and educate the public about the importance of environmental conservation and the wonders of the natural world through engaging scientific and nature-based programming.
  • History: Established in 1987 on Dr. Eugene Leslie’s property, it was intended to foster a deep appreciation for nature and science.
  • Impact: Annually, it captivates thousands of visitors with its interactive wildlife and nature education programs, promoting environmental awareness and stewardship.

10. Ann Arbor Art Center

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: The Ann Arbor Art Center enriches community life by fostering an appreciation for the visual arts through education, exhibition, and exploration.
  • History: Since its establishment in 1909, the center has become a cornerstone of the local arts community, offering a broad spectrum of artistic activities.
  • Impact: Engages over 50,000 participants a year in various art classes, workshops, and exhibitions, significantly enhancing public access to art and cultural education.

11. SafeHouse Center

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: SafeHouse Center is committed to providing a safe refuge and supportive resources for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, aiming to empower them towards recovery and independence.
  • History: Since 1975, it has been an advocate for survivors, offering dedicated support and advocacy services.
  • Impact: Annually supports thousands of survivors, providing comprehensive assistance that includes shelter, legal advocacy, and educational programs to raise awareness and prevent violence.

12. Community Action Network

ann arbor nonprofits

  • Mission: The Community Action Network partners with disadvantaged children, youth, and families to improve their lives and foster community development through educational and supportive services.
  • History: Created to respond to the needs of low-income families in Washtenaw County, it focuses on enhancing community well-being.
  • Impact: Delivers impactful educational and community-building services that significantly improve the living conditions and futures of numerous under-resourced families.


The commitment and contributions of these Ann Arbor nonprofits illustrate the profound impact that focused, community-based efforts can have on a city’s well-being and development.

Through their diverse missions, they address critical issues and enrich lives, showcasing the power of cooperation and compassion in building a stronger community. As we celebrate their achievements, let us also acknowledge the ongoing need for support and participation from the entire community to sustain and enhance these vital efforts.

This dedication not only fosters a thriving environment but also sets a powerful example of what can be accomplished when people come together for a common cause.

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