Community Foundation Awards Over $400,000 in Grants

The Board of Trustees of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Community Foundation recently awarded grants to six local nonprofits totaling $401,500. The grants include:

The City of Grand Rapids will use an $89,000 grant to engage citizens in creating an extensive parks and greenspace plan as part of its process to update its current Master Plan. The City of Grand Rapids last updated its Master Plan in 2002. At the time, over 3,000 Grand Rapids citizens participated in the planning process, setting Grand Rapids apart with a model for master planning. The city hopes to achieve this same level of involvement in creating specific plans for five city parkland areas, the riverfront and more general planning for the balance of the city’s greenspace. This process could once again serve as a regional, statewide, and possibly a national model for land use planning.

St. John’s Home will use a $100,000 grant to help launch its new program called St. John’s Home Academy for Teens. This adventure-based program will provide an intensive four-month experiential setting, with follow-up support after placement in long-term foster care or an alternative living environment. For the teens in the program, this will mean less time spent at St. John’s Home, an extended follow up period and more intensive therapy-based programming. This innovative approach could serve as a state, and possibly a national, model.

Legal Aid of Western Michigan will use a $62,500 grant to expand the services, outreach and advocacy it provides for former prisoners returning to our community as part of the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative (MPRI) through the Reentry Law Project. Last year, the Reentry Law Project used grant funding to provide direct legal services to ex-offenders, create materials to be distributed to all prisoners entering state correctional facilities, provide trainings for corrections-related service providers statewide, and produce the Reentry Wiki, a website to assist ex-offenders and service providers seeking legal services. With this second year of grant funding, the Reentry Law Project will increase the number of ex-offenders receiving services and gaining employment.

Kent County Community Mental Health Authority, now known as Network 180, is receiving a $50,000 grant toward its Building a Healthier Community Capital Campaign. This campaign will allow Network 180 to renovate and expand its Fuller Avenue facility in order to consolidate all of its direct services at one location. The consolidation will save the organization funds, allowing it to further expand client services.

School-To-Career Progressions provides interventions and develops improvement plans, for youth at risk of educational failure. The organization has implemented its Success Centers in inner-city Grand Rapids and at Newhall Middle School in Wyoming. A $50,000 will provide funding support for the staffing and curriculum development necessary for the establishment of two new Success Centers—one at Pine Rest’s De Mey Center in cooperation with the Juvenile Detention Center and another at Gerald R. Ford Middle School. If successful, this effort will address the disproportionate number of minority youth being referred to Juvenile Detention from the city’s southeast side.

Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism (GRACE) engages congregations, corporations and the community in combating social justice issues, specifically homelessness and racism. In the past, GRACE has received funding from congregations to support its core operations and grant funding for specific projects. However, donations from congregations are becoming increasingly more directed to more tangible projects, meaning operational support of GRACE has markedly declined. GRACE will use a $50,000 grant to realign its staff and funding structure to become financially sustainable and to increase its impact on housing and racism.