A Future For Our Foundation

Diana R. Sieger

Dear Partners + Friends​

About a decade ago, when the Grand Rapids Community Foundation team began looking ahead to our centennial in 2022, we had no idea how our community, nation and world would change. Who knew—during all our planning, forecasting and creative whiteboard vision sessions—that we would walk into 100 years amid a global pandemic and racial reckoning? After a century of responding to the ever-changing needs of Greater Grand Rapids, we knew enough to expect the unexpected. But, this?

Yet this is where we are. And we were made for pivotal times like this. Facing tragedy, hardships and insurmountable pain has given us a rare and precious opportunity to start anew.

So, as we approach 2022, the Community Foundation is not only focused on recovery. Our community deserves better than just a return to what was. The time is now to build upon our strengths and lean further into our role as stewards of change in our community, in partnership with many others. Our actions will affect generations to come, so we must get it right this time.

The societal systems that have failed so many in our community over the last year and a half—and for many, much longer than that—were built on an uneven foundation of disparities, inequities and injustices. The pandemic has been the sledgehammer that crumbled the foundation under those already navigating racial, social and economic injustices in Kent County. It continues to affect equitable access to education, childcare, healthcare, housing, income and relief funds.

Together with our partners, the Community Foundation is working toward a renewed West Michigan. One with a deeper, more sustainable commitment to racial, social and economic justice.

One where everyone in our community has equitable access to opportunity, prosperity and belonging. If we reimagine our societal systems and rebuild together on a foundation made up of the “right stuff”—inclusion, equity, justice and love—then the future will be bright.

“… we were made for pivotal times like this. Facing tragedy, hardships and insurmountable pain has given us a rare and precious opportunity to start anew.”

Over the last year, we have built relationships with new nonprofit organizations, community leaders and organizers working tirelessly to nurture sustainable change at grassroots and systems levels. We’ve welcomed new philanthropists who have partnered with us in their giving. This includes the last few of our 100 New Philanthropists who have taken a pledge to walk alongside us into a new century of service and impact through contributions today and beyond their lifetime. Our new donor partnerships also include 27 new funds, many of which share our organizational commitment to racial, social and economic justice.

Our finance team and Investment Review Committee have guided our assets, which have grown to $428,377,250. Our new investment advisors share our commitment to providing long-term, risk-managed returns for our diverse portfolio. Based on our commitment to equitable COVID-19 recovery, we’re seeking a healthy balance of allocating resources to help address the current critical community needs while also maintaining our endowment to ensure we can respond to needs that will arise in the future. With our partners’ support, we awarded $18,983,109 in grants to nonprofits and scholarships to local students through our various funds.

In this annual report, we share stories of partners working with us to make bold investments today that are foundational to our community’s future. We hope these partners inspire you as much as they have inspired us. We are so grateful for your partnership and your continued investment of time, talent and treasure. Together, we can create a stronger foundation and a better tomorrow for everyone who calls West Michigan home.

With deepest appreciation and gratitude,
Diana R. Sieger

Diana R. Sieger

Kathleen B. Vogelsang

Kathleen B. Vogelsang
Board Chair