April 1, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Robert Richmond appreciated how a life-changing Grand Rapids Community College education helped his employees and took steps to make sure those opportunities continue to be available to all.
Richmond, who passed away in 2019, left the GRCC Foundation nearly $10 million, the largest single donation in the college’s history. GRCC leaders are reviewing how to best use the donation to support student resources and modernize buildings.
“This is an extraordinary and generous investment in GRCC, its students and our greater community,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “Mr. Richmond saw firsthand how GRCC gave his employees the knowledge and confidence to grow and thrive. His gift will help us continue providing state-of-the-art learning spaces and other resources to make education more accessible to West Michigan residents.”
Richmond started his career with IBM, helping businesses set up computer systems. He and his wife, Lois, started B&L Plastics in Rockford, and later, B&L Development. They frequently hired interns from GRCC.
Family members said Richmond believed strongly in higher education and was impressed by the work performed by interns who were earning associate degrees at GRCC.
Dr. Kathryn K. Mullins, vice president for College Advancement and executive director of the GRCC Foundation, said Richmond’s bequest is recognition of the importance of GRCC’s mission.
“Mr. Richmond’s vision was to help the college keep higher education within reach of everyone who seeks it,” she said. “We will use this generous gift to honor his legacy.”
Pink said the donation reflects the value West Michigan employers and residents place on the community’s college and its critical role in developing a talented workforce and boosting the local economy.
“We deeply appreciate this gift,” Pink said. “Mr. Richmond is a great example of leaving one’s treasure to touch the lives of others for years to come.”
Grand Rapids Community College offers learners of all ages opportunities to gain credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills leading to rewarding careers. GRCC was established in 1914 – Michigan’s first community college -- and offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.