In 2017, AAACF received the largest gift in its history from an individual: a $16.2 million unrestricted gift from the estate of Helmut Stern, a longtime supporter. The AAACF Board of Trustees deliberated very intentionally for many months on how best to recognize and honor his legacy.

The majority of Helmut’s $16.2 million gift was established as a permanent endowed fund—the Helmut Stern Community Legacy Fund—that will be distributed in perpetuity through annual competitive grants and support for nonprofits. The Board, which included members who knew Helmut personally, felt that recognition also provided an opportunity to incentivize others in the community to follow Helmut’s example of estate planning and philanthropy. 

In recognition of this extraordinary gift to the community—not just in size but in its unrestricted nature so as to provide maximum flexibility for benefitting Washtenaw County as it changes over time—the Board of Trustees decided to rename the AAACF Legacy Society in honor of Helmut as the Helmut Stern Society for Community Legacy.

The renamed society kicked off with an inaugural luncheon in September 2019 that will be repeated in years to come. That same month, AAACF unveiled a permanent display in its lobby recognizing all legacy donors.

Simple documentation confirms your membership in the Helmut Stern Society for Community Legacy and allows you the benefits of gathering with like-minded supporters of this community and to be recognized and serve as an inspiration to others.

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