Grand Rapids Community Foundation Awards more than $1 Million in Scholarships for First Time in History

Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the area’s largest scholarship provider, this year broke the $1M mark for the first time in history. It awarded 642 scholarships for a total $1,099,400, more than double the $544,500 distributed just six years ago.

“Surpassing the one million dollar mark is a huge milestone for us and our community,” said Community Foundation Education Program Officer Ruth Bishop. “Our scholarship program shows tremendous growth and impact year after year.”

This spring, 22 Advisory Committee meetings convened to sift through the 2,167 applications and choose the recipients. Awards ranged from $500 to $10,000 with 613 awards of $1,000 or more.

30% of general scholarships were awarded to diverse populations, and 56% of all recipients are first generation college students.  

The support of Community Foundation scholarships is crucial in the lives of many students as they pursue higher education. Brian Burt graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 2000 and received Community Foundation scholarships beginning in undergrad all the way through receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. “It was significant and symbolic to receive the Community Foundation scholarship—knowing that someone outside my family valued and affirmed my dreams,” said Burt. “It was the support I needed.”

Five new scholarships made a debut this year:

  • Rosemary Cook Education Scholarship – for a Grand Rapids Public Schools graduate pursuing an education major
  • Harry J. Morris Jr. Emergency Services Scholarship – for a local resident pursuing emergency service training
  • National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) West Michigan Scholarship – for a local resident pursuing business/finance major
  • Allan R. Ryan Scholarship – for a Kent County 8th grader who is matriculating to either Catholic Central or West Catholic High School; renewable throughout high school and continuing on if the “Ryan Scholar” chooses to attend Aquinas College
  • Gretchen Slack Appelt and Doris Ann Slack Scholarship – for a current female student at the University of Michigan


Scholarships by the numbers

# of applications received 2,167
# of scholarships awarded 642
Total scholarship dollar amount $1,099,400
Awards to first generation college students 56%
Awards to diverse populations 30%
Awards to Grand Rapids Public High School graduates 20%

Top 5 Michigan college awards:

  1. Grand Valley State University ($163,000)
  2. University of Michigan ($79,150)
  3. Michigan State University ($74,750)
  4. Grand Rapids Community College ($62,000)
  5. Ferris State University ($54,000)

Top 3 majors of recipients:

  1. Healthcare (23%)
  2. Business (12%)
  3. Science (10%)