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Member Highlight: Discovery Center & Pier

October 16, 2017 by Katie Edwards0

The Discovery Center & Pier are a shared campus to five water-based nonprofit organizations in northwest Michigan:

• Great Lakes Children’s Museum
• Maritime Heritage Alliance
• Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay
• Inland Seas Education Association
• Traverse Area Community Sailing

The Traverse Tall Ship Company operates from the campus as an affiliate business partner.

The organizations, while co-located on the 15-acre campus, largely operate from their own buildings. Obviously, having access to a deepwater port and more than 11,000 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline make this facility different and uniquely suited for organizations with boats and/or a connection to water. (Only Great Lakes Children’s Museum does not operate a boat.)

The owner is a division of the local Rotary Club. It is mainly managed by the member organizations through a separate nonprofit. A plan is being developed for a new nonprofit center that would house most of the partners’ operations under one roof.

What is one interesting fact about your space?

The Discovery Center & Pier is home to the largest fleet of tall ships on the American side of the Great Lakes:

• Schooner Madeline – operated by the Maritime Heritage Alliance
• Schooner Utopia – operated by the Inland Seas Education Association
• Schooner Manitou – operated by the Traverse Tall Ship Company
• Cutter Champion – operated by the Maritime Heritage Alliance
• Schooner Inland Seas – operated by the Inland Seas Education Association (occasionally)

An interesting fact about the Utopia is that it circumnavigated the world on two separate occasions piloted by its designer, builder, and initial owner, the late Fred Peterson, who founded Peterson Builder in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

What are your favorite resources that you would recommend to others?

NorthSky Nonprofit Network
Board Source

Center Name: Discovery Center & Pier

Location: Traverse City, MI

Center Website:

Get Social with Discovery Center & Pier:  Facebook

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About Our Blogger:

Katie Edwards

Katie connects NCN members with the resources they need to make their projects a success. She holds an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University, where she studied nonprofit co-location as part of her coursework. Katie’s research background and her first-hand experience with the Co-location Task Force for the Indianapolis’ Early Intervention and Prevention Initiative give her a unique perspective on shared spaces and nonprofit centers.

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