Everyone, meet Marcia Rapp.
She's been with Grand Rapids Community Foundation since 1988, and while she would never admit it, she knows the Grand Rapids community incredibly well to say the least. As Vice President, Marcia administers the Community Foundation's grantmaking process and community leadership initiatives. We recently sat down with her to find out more about her approach to grantmaking. Here's what she had to say:
Area of expertise:
Diversity and inclusion, along with general grants
What I look for in a great grant:
I look for a great idea that will have solid, measurable impact on at least one of our priorities. It also needs a realistic plan for continuing the project after our grant is spent. The most exciting grants are “flipping the switch” on an issue, questioning assumptions and thinking bigger about possible solutions.
Examples of grants I’ve reviewed that have exceeded my expectations:
Kent School Services Network (KSSN) brings existing health and human services directly into public schools that have high percentages of children living in poverty. Its highly collaborative and sustainable approach provides easy access to services, so students can more easily be in school every day ready to learn. Because KSSN is advocating at the state level, its model is being replicated across Michigan.
How to be more strategic in my area with your philanthropy:
When deciding how to give your money, look for organizations that seek to prevent problems, empower people, change systems—and do all this through a diversity and inclusion lens. This will ultimately help neighborhoods thrive and people reach their life goals.
Good questions for a nonprofit organization you want to support in this area:
Do your organization’s demographics reflect the population you serve? If not, can you demonstrate how you “work with” your customers, as opposed to “doing to” your customers?
Cultural competence is critical to success, yet hard to readily gauge. That’s why we at Grand Rapids Community Foundation begin the conversation by looking at demographics. It is exciting when an organization’s culture becomes inclusive and intentional, as diversity typically helps improve impact.