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CLEO Foundation Aids Childhood Development

By Ethan Duffield, AmeriCorps Vista Community Liaison 

The Village of Central Lake is the beneficiary of a unique gift, the Cleo M. Purdy Endowment. As a result of a generous donation to the community allocated to the growth of young families and early childhood development.

Cleo M. Purdy was a Central Lake native who believed in investing in childhood development as a means to prevent poverty and enhance communities. Raised on her family’s local farm, she eventually joined the Army and then settled in California where she became a teacher and successful real estate developer. She began donating to Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation (GTRCF) in 2003, and over the course of 10 years she contributed more than $500,000. Upon her passing in 2013, the Village of Central Lake was gifted a multi-million dollar endowment.

In 2014 and 2015, GTRCF sought to honor and pursue Ms. Purdy’s vision. An early childhood expert was consulted to explore options, current assets, needs and opportunities where childhood development could be strengthened within Central Lake. In addition, public input was gathered through local surveys and focus groups. From these efforts, the CLEO model, short for Central Lake Experiences and Opportunities for Children and Families, was implemented to maximize financial resources. The initiative supports various programs such as playgroup sessions, networking events, trainings for parents, and a summer camp.

CLEO is supported by Cleo M. Purdy’s Endowment, as well as various organizations such as the Central Lake Public Schools, the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, Char-Em ISD, and others. Ms. Purdy’s philanthropy truly elevates Central Lake, and creates an ideal place for young families to plant their roots and flourish. Her generosity is a gift that will benefit generations to come.  

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