Agnes and Brian met at freshmen orientation at the University of Detroit. He was from St. Louis and moved to West Michigan after graduation to start his life with Agnes who was from the area. Today, he is the vice president of global community relations for Steelcase, Inc. and Agnes is an attorney with the Department of Justice US Attorney’s Office.
Brian and Agnes first became donors to the Community Foundation after Brian was approached to serve as a Foundation Trustee in 1996.
“The Community Foundation has a legacy of involvement and sustainability,” said Brian. “We want to give to an organization that respects its donors’ wishes, stewards the funds responsibly and will continue to give. The Community Foundation has the processes in place to have a lasting impact—it is not going away.” With a gift through their estate plan, the Cloyds hope to help the Community Foundation continue to expand, influence and regenerate.
Influenced by his work, Brian is interested is the issues of diversity, education and economic development. “Our community is becoming more diverse and we need to make sure all people here have the opportunity to learn and develop. This impacts our local economy,” Brian said.
Agnes is passionate about the arts and programs geared at meeting people’s basic needs. The latter she attributes to her experience as a participant of Upward Bound when she was a teenager. “The experience taught me that we are all one person; potential exists in each and every one of us. The only thing wrong with the poor is that they lack money. I believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect,” Agnes said.
The Cloyd’s describe giving as part of their belief structure—a concept they’ve passed onto their children, Barrett, 26 and Brandon, 22.
“When they were growing up, we gave the boys an allowance. We taught them that a portion went to the bank, part was for them and the rest should go to helping others,” Agnes said. During their high school years, both Barrett and Brandon served on the Community Foundation’s Youth Grant Committee.
“For us, giving back to our community is an obligation. We have been blessed with resources. Community is a place where everyone can participate and it is our responsibility to help in any way we can,” Brian said.