Impact, grants and the future!

The Philanthropy Roundtable recently asked philanthropic leaders from around the country two questions: "What is the single most daring, audacious and successful grant of the past 100 years?" and "What grant will people be talking about 100 years from now?" Various opinions from the foremost leaders in the foundation world are listed and it's quite interesting - click on the link attached to the Philanthropy Roundtable above.

I posed the following questions to all the staff at Grand Rapids Community Foundation with the link to the Philanthropy Roundtable article in an email last week:
"This is interesting . . . BUT what would you say has been our most daring, audacious grant since 1922 for those who are aware of our grants and for everyone, what could be a great grant we would make or a community change for which we could be the spark for the needed change in the future - not necessarily 100 years out but maybe in the next 5 to 10 years?"

I received some great responses and here are some of them:

"I have always felt that the initial planning grant we gave to what is now called the Coalition to End Homelessness is our most successful grant - I believe it was for $50,000 in 2004. That grant laid the groundwork for a community-centered collaborative that is revolutionizing a new approach to housing for all members of our community. . . Suffice it to say, in my opinion, not only did it lead to a significant shift in how a system is approaching an important community issue, I also feel that it helped define the values of this Foundation. The results of that grant are informing nearly everything we do in the Program department - our goals, priorities, and strategies. . . I think Kent County as a whole is better suited to do the same!"

"My favorite grant was for the Legacy Trees at Millennium Park which commemorated our $75 million in GRCF grants - a $75,000 grant from the Charles Evenson Fund in 2003. The trees will live on for decades to come like our grant making!"

"I have two grants in mind when I think of "long-lasting" impact . . . Encore - Putting experienced adults to work to better our community and enrich their lives. This is such an important endeavor as all the "baby boomers" start reaching retirement plus. Purchase Development Rights (PDR) - Permanently preserving farmland throughout Kent County. These grants will impact our community for years and years."

"Our initial $5,000 grant to Grand Valley State University back in 1959 to start a "committee for a 4-year college" and our 1960/61 grant totaling $200,000 for start-up and land purchase which influenced the location of the then college PLUS the grants we approved for buying land and building buildings in downtown Grand Rapids ($300,000 in 1985 for a "downtown center", $300,000 in 1994 for land acquisition and $500,000 in 1996 for the business school.) What a huge difference having a strong downtown GVSU campus has made!"

As we continue to identify great grants, I'll share them as well as any ideas for the future. In the meantime, anyone can add their thoughts too!