Nonprofit leaders gather to share wisdom, collaborate, and learn

Photos by Elizabeth Lienau
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Photos by Elizabeth Lienau
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Hundreds of Grand Rapids area nonprofit leaders and volunteers spent the morning of May 18 on Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids campus as part of an event that was designed to inspire new ways to help children thrive in an educational setting, and in life.

“Philanthropy, Faith, and Education Community Convening” was held at Loosemore Auditorium and brought together representatives from more than 20 area nonprofit organizations, each with a unique goal and mission. Each organization set up a poster presentation in the lobby outside the auditorium and was encouraged to share its successes and challenges with other nonprofit representatives who attended. The event was organized by Grand Valley’s Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

Guests at the event were also greeted by Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, an initiative of the White House. 

Speakers and organizations represented at the event included:

- Kent School Services Network - Ron Koehler, assistant superintendent, Kent Intermediate School District

- First Steps - Rebekah S. Fennell, executive director

- Great Start Collaborative - Judy Freeman, director

- Challenge Scholars - Diana R. Sieger, president, Grand Rapids Community Foundation

- Expanded Learning Opportunities Network - Lynn Heemstra, executive director, Our Community’s Children

- Schools of Hope - Fritz Crabb, director of literacy/initiatives and grants, Heart of West Michigan United Way

- Believe 2 Become - Beverly Grant, DeVos Family Foundations program officer, Community Initiatives

- Talent 2025 - Kevin Stotts, president

A panel also fielded questions from moderator Matthew Downey, program director of nonprofit services for the Johnson Center.

Organizations invited to take part in the informational poster display are listed below:

Kent School Services Network, Challenge Scholars, Believe 2 Become, Gatherings of Hope, Strong Beginnings, Heart of West Michigan United Way’s Schools of Hope, LINC Community Revitalization Inc., Talent 2025, Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, the SOURCE, Early Chronic Absenteeism, Expanded Learning Opportunities Network, The Coalition to End Homelessness, Michigan Historical Residential Foreclosures Data Project, First Steps, Community Family Partnerships, Grand Valley State University’s Charter Schools Office, Anchor Organization Network, Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof College of Nursing, Kent Intermediate School District.

Participants were encouraged to post their thoughts on the event on Twitter. Read some of their posts about the speakers and topics below.