2018 Giving Report

In 2018, our foundation supported nearly 150 nonprofit organizations, ranging from neighborhood-level efforts in our hometown of Grand Rapids to national and international organizations, impacting communities near and far.

What inspires our giving?

Our faith motivates our giving; it is integral to who we are and what we do. Following in the footsteps of our parents, we strive to be faithful stewards. Our giving is centered on cultivating leadership and accelerating transformation, and focuses support in five areas: community, education, the arts, justice, and developing leadership.

Partnerships are the key to our success:

Justice: 70x7 Life Recovery

Annually, 1,500 people will return to Grand Rapids after incarceration, and experience barriers to employment because of their criminal backgrounds. Yet, West Michigan needs qualified employees, safer communities, and whole families, and empowering and engaging returning citizens is vital to our community’s success.

70x7 works to break the cycle of reincarceration and offers ex-offenders the opportunity to restore their lives through mentoring, faith, job-readiness training, placement, and full-time employment. Among those who complete 70x7’s program, less than 5% return to jail or prison within three years, compared to the state average of 30%.

We believe every person, regardless of their choices or mistakes, can overcome their past and build a fruitful and meaningful life. In 2018, our foundation provided seed funding to enable 70x7 to expand programs into Grand Rapids and bring restoration and hope to our community.

Community: Vision To Learn

Based on their experience in other cities across the country, Vision To Learn estimates 3,000 low-income children in Grand Rapids attend school every day without the glasses they need to see the board, read a book, or participate in class. Students with untreated vision problems often struggle at school, and are less likely to achieve reading proficiency by third grade, putting them at higher risk for dropping out.

Through a collaboration between Vision To Learn, Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), and the Kent County Health Department, every student in GRPS will receive a vision screening, eye exam, and, if needed, a pair of glasses, free of charge. The program brings optometry care directly to schools and children in need. Research by the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA found students who received glasses from Vision To Learn improved their grades and were more engaged in the classroom.

Our foundation was proud to support Vision To Learn’s expansion to Grand Rapids and help local students get the care and glasses they need to see and succeed.

Accelerating Transformation: Grand Rapids Whitewater

The Grand River flows through the heart of Grand Rapids, but the city’s namesake rapids have been missing for decades. Through strategic public and private partnerships, Grand Rapids Whitewater is restoring the river, returning it to a more natural state with a 16-foot drop, and activating 2.5 miles of the waterway through downtown.

With broad support from rowing and paddling clubs, anglers, businesses, and individuals, the project will improve the health and accessibility of the Grand River and catalyze economic growth. Grand Rapids Whitewater will remove five aging dams, install boulders and smaller rocks, reestablish historical spawning areas for fish, improve habitat for native aquatic species, and prevent invasive species from moving upstream. The $45 million restoration is slated to be completed by 2025.

We believe this project will reactivate the river, allowing greater access and recreation, and improve the health of a vital ecosystem and community resource. Moreover, the restoration will enable the city to integrate the Grand River into downtown, transforming how we live and work.