Community Foundation Awards Nearly Half a Million in Grants

The Board of Trustees of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Community Foundation recently approved $490,906 in grants to address a variety of issues in our community. The grants include:

Genesis Non-profit Housing Corporation currently operates Heron Woods, an independent living apartment complex for older adults. To accommodate seniors with higher level needs, Genesis is doubling its capacity, adding 50 new units of housing that will include 24-hour support services. This project is intended to serve as a demonstration of the savings that can be achieved by providing housing with supports for low-income older adults. This is a new model with a strong tracking component that could be replicated by other providers, locally and statewide. Grant award is $125,000.

Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth operates Camp O’Malley in Caledonia Township. For nearly 70 years Camp O’Malley has provided summer camp experiences for urban Grand Rapids children, 97 percent of whom are from low-income families. Due to operational issues, Camp O’Malley closed in 2006. Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth is now working to renovate and reopen the camp in 2007. Plans include updating 10 cabins, constructing a new dining hall and director’s residence, and adding an indoor recreation area and outdoor football and soccer fields. Ultimately, the renovation will allow the camp to serve more local children. Grant award is $150,000.

Lighthouse Communities Inc. is a community development corporation that rents or sells housing to low-income residents. Several years ago, the organization started the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative in four participating neighborhoods including Baxter, Garfield Park, South East and Midtown. This initiative has been successful—increasing resident perceptions, funding home improvement projects and ultimately raising property values. Lighthouse is now seeking support of its Neighborhood Housing Fund, which was formed to provide resources for participating neighborhoods, and for neighborhood beatification activities. Grant award is $60,000.

Nonprofit Technical Assistance Fund started in 2003 with the financial support of seven local Foundations, including the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and the expertise of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management at Grand Valley State University. The Fund, which is administered by the Johnson Center, serves as a flexible funding source that allows nonprofit organizations to seek customized support for their organizational and technical assistance needs. The Fund is seeking ongoing support for grants and activities associated with increasing the organizational capacity of local nonprofits. Grant award is $50,000.

Grand Rapids Education Reform Initiative (ERI) was launched in 2000 by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Frey Foundation and Steelcase Foundation as a community wake-up call to create strong city schools that prepare students to succeed.

Recently, the ERI launched the Kent School Services Network. This initiative brings health and human services staff, including a nurse, a social worker and a resource connector, directly into eight pilot schools to help boost student achievement and attendance. This spring, the ERI, with a generous gift from the Meijer Foundation, will launch the Meijer Good Schools for Grand Rapids Program, which will reward public elementary schools for good performance.

In the coming year, the Initiative will continue to focus on its strategic priorities of improving schools and academic achievement in the city of Grand Rapids. Grant award is $105,906.