Our Approach to Education Impact

Creating opportunities for students

Post-secondary education opens doors to careers and contributes to a stronger West Michigan. The Community Foundation is dedicated to creating an education system where a student’s race, ethnicity or first-generation status doesn't determine their ability to succeed. Through scholarships, grantmaking, advocacy and partnerships we strive to provide all students the opportunities they deserve.

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About our efforts

Creating opportunities for students

  • $1.47 Million in Scholarships

    This year, deserving students received $1.47 million to pursue higher education.

  • 64% scholarship recipients are first-generation college students.

    We recognize that students who are first in their family to attend college have an extra challenging road. We're committed to helping in every way we can.

Adapting to students' needs

Our work has grown and adapted since awarding our first scholarships in 1945.


With an emphasis on grants issued toward education, the Foundation issues its largest grant to date: $50,000 to establish Grand Valley State College.


The Community Foundation participates in efforts that led to launching Kent Schools Services (KSSN), which began as a pilot program to support families and students in Kent County.

Recent education partnerships

To increase the number of low-income, first-generation students who successfully earn a degree or vocational certificate, the Community Foundation launches Challenge Scholars.


An advisory committee guides the Community Foundation's future direction, focusing on amplifying community voice through resourcing community-led advocacy and grantmaking, and by making post-secondary education more affordable for students.

Read more about our strategy

A partnership with Urban Core Collective supports the Kent County Education Justice Initiative, which develops grassroots leaders and structures that support those leaders to hold education systems accountable to their constituencies.

Challenge Scholars

For students in the graduating classes of 2020 through 2028 at Union High School, Challenge Scholars offers a way to cover the costs of education after high school. These students are attending colleges and universities across the state, and their experiences are shaping the future of our work.

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