Alongside Community

Grand Rapids Community Foundation is built on community relationships. With a commitment to help strengthen the nonprofit ecosystem in Kent County, the Community Foundation is evolving its practices through partnerships and feedback. Recent updates include more inclusive grantmaking structures, reducing barriers for historically excluded organizations and adapting strategies to address community inequities.
Three people sitting at a round table, which is set up with microphones and coffee cups. They are all facing toward each other, mid-conversation with joyful faces.
Stacy Stout, Somos Comunidad Fund Advisory Committee co-chair; Dondrea Brown, CEO of Young Money Finances, grant partner; and Chantal Pasag, program officer.

A conversation featuring:  Stacy Stout, Somos Comunidad Fund Advisory Committee co-chair; Dondrea Brown, CEO of Young Money Finances, grant partner; and Chantal Pasag, program officer. 

What we’re exploring: How are volunteers working alongside staff to adapt and create greater North Star alignment within our operations, relationships and practices? How are these changes affecting local nonprofits?



of funds awarded through the Fund for Community Good Advisory Committee supported the work of organizations led by people of color during fiscal year 2022–2023.

A diverse group of high school students sitting in chairs listening to a presentation at a Challenge Scholars event about college access and resources.
Challenge Scholars Class of 2023, Dreaming, Deciding, Doing Event


of grants awarded from Black Legacy, Somos Comunidad and Our LGBTQ funds went to grassroots organizations (non 501c3s) during their competitive grant rounds in 2023

Community-Centric Approach

Being able to respond to the day’s most pressing needs requires deep relationships within community—our community. The Community Foundation has been integrating that community-centric approach throughout its processes, partnerships and strategies. Our commitment to strengthening Kent County’s nonprofit ecosystem with a fixed lens on racial, social and economic justice has not wavered. However, we are learning alongside our partners—grant, donor, volunteer and community partners—who are challenging the Community Foundation to dismantle misaligned practices and recalibrate our trajectory toward our North Star. It is a work in progress.

Adapting Grantmaking and Education Support

The Community Foundation moved forward in many areas thanks to community members’ generous thought partnership, feedback and alignment. We’ve updated grantmaking practices to create more inclusive structures and inroads for grant partners. Volunteer partners provide honest feedback loops on how the Community Foundation can reduce barriers and support organizations that have been historically excluded from foundation funding. That includes finding ways to award grants to grassroots organizations and movements without 501c3 status, especially for grants from our Black Legacy, Somos Comunidad and Our LGBTQ funds .

Education is a clear example of how feedback has evolved our work. Our support for students and families has adapted over the last 100 years and has made incredible strides in recent years. From nursing scholarships during World War II to supporting education advocacy efforts in 2023, the Community Foundation has refined its focus on ways to achieve equitable educational outcomes for all students. And we keep listening to students and families about the true support needed. This means helping students gain access to college or career training and helping them to persist and earn a degree or credential. Racialized discrepancies still exist as students of color and first-generation students navigate systemic obstacles. Scholarships remain an important factor. However, we are learning that they are not the only factor that can support students today to make a difference for generations to come.

Continue Exploring