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GRCC Receives $750,000 Grant from Frey Foundation; College’s Capital Campaign Closer to Fundraising Goal

Grand Rapids Community College just got $750,000 closer to reaching their $15 million capital campaign goal thanks to the Frey Foundation.  The approval of these funds was announced to the college on Monday, May 16.

“We viewed this contribution in the context of how the economic transformation taking place in West Michigan will require a more highly skilled workforce in the future than it has in the past,” said Milt Rohwer, president of the Frey Foundation in announcing the grant.  “As a result, a significant increase in associate degrees and certification programs will be necessary and GRCC will be an important source for that education.”

According to Andy Bowne, Associate Vice President for College Advancement and Executive Director of Grand Rapids Community College Foundation, the Frey contribution will go to the "GRCC Works...Ask Anyone" Capital Campaign.   “Our capital campaign was developed to meet the growing educational needs of the community,” said Bowne.   “It is an integral part of the $34 million expansion and renovation efforts that will allow us to better serve our growing population of students.”  

Bowne cites GRCC’s DeVos Campus – purchased from Davenport University – as an example of the projects funded through the capital campaign.  “The DeVos Campus has given us the ability to serve 3,000 more students annually,” he said.   Other major projects that are targeted include renovations to the Main Building (built in 1922) and the Peter & Pat Cook Academic Hall, where renovations will turn space built in the early-1970's into a state-of-the-art educational facility focused on mathematics and health programs.  These two projects, says Bowne, “will improve the teaching and learning space for the thousands of students that use this building daily.”   The final project includes renovations to the arena within the Gerald R. Ford Field House.  An estimated 5,000-plus students and community members use the Ford Field House each semester, “so there is a need to completely renovate the arena,” said Bowne.  “The additional benefit of the field house renovation is the creation of an arena suitable for regional and national athletic competition,” he added.

The Frey Foundation is one of Michigan's largest family foundations and, according to Rohwer, helps fund other capital projects in the Grand Rapids area annually.  “Our contribution to GRCC’s capital campaign will expand the capacity of the college to meet the needs of employers and the entire community in the future, and we’re proud to be a part of these important efforts,” he said.

The Frey Foundation joins a growing number of foundations, as well as other financial supporters, to make significant pledges and contributions to the College’s capital campaign.  Among them:

•    M.E. Davenport Foundation
•    The Daniel & Pamella DeVos Foundation
•    The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation
•    The Douglas & Maria DeVos Foundation
•    The Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation
•    Fred Keller Systemic Change Fund & W.K. Kellogg Foundation
•    Grand Rapids Community Foundation
•    Meijer Foundation
•    Secchia Family Foundation
•    Steelcase Foundation
•    Tassell-Wisner-Bottrall Foundation
•    David & Carol Van Andel Foundation
•    VandeWeide Family Foundation
•    Peter Wege Foundation

“The Grand Rapids community has shown its strong, ongoing support for its community college through the generous contribution of these organizations and individuals,” said Dr. James Buzzitta, chairperson of the College’s capital campaign.  “Let’s not forget the hundreds of individuals who gave as little as five dollars to this important effort…they are also to be commended and thanked for their support of GRCC’s mission of serving students and our community.”
The Frey Foundation, based in Grand Rapids, is one of Michigan’s largest family foundations.  Grants are provided primarily to non-profit organizations in western Michigan for projects to enhance children’s development, protect natural resources, promote the arts, and expand philanthropic and civic action.

The Frey Foundation was established in 1974 and permanently endowed in 1988 from the estate of the late Edward J. and Frances T. Frey.  Mr. Frey was longtime chief executive officer of Union Bank (now Chase) and founded Foremost Insurance Company in Grand Rapids.  It was the next generation, David G. Frey, Edward J. Frey, Jr., John M. Frey, and Mary Caroline (Twink) Frey that developed the family foundation that operates today.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 32,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.