About the Thompsons

Bob and Ellen Thompson

Thanks to the generosity of Bob and Ellen Thompson and the Thompson Foundation, hundreds of Laker students receive financial support and needed resources for academic success and community building. The Thompsons have created several scholarships for Grand Valley students: the UPREP Academy ScholarshipThompson Working Families Scholarship, Thompson Working Families Achiever Scholarship, and the Thompson Working Families Transfer Student Scholarship. Learn more about Robert and Ellen Thompson

Robert (Bob) and Ellen Thompson have made a profound impact on Michigan and its largest city, Detroit.

Bob built his company, Thompson-McCully, into Michigan’s largest asphalt paving company. In his 40 years in the industry, he helped lead the paving business, serving as chairman of the National Asphalt Paving Foundation, president of the Michigan Road Builders Association and other leadership roles. He holds some of the industry’s highest honors, including Asphalt Institute Roll of Honor, NAPA Man of the Year, and Engineering News-Record Newsmaker of the Year.

Ellen began her career as an elementary school teacher and has had a passion for teaching and education all her life. In addition to raising their family and helping Bob build his business, Ellen played an active role in her community, including the development and evolution of the Thompson Foundation, and being actively engaged with the Salvation Army.

Bob and Ellen have led the Thompson Foundation to create nine nonprofit charter schools in Southeast Michigan reaching thousands of students, with continued support for them post-graduation. They have set up ongoing scholarships at several universities. They also initiated two scholarship programs at Grand Valley State University. The University Preparatory Academy Scholarship supports graduates from three of their Detroit nonprofit charter schools, University Prep Academy, University Prep Science & Math and University Prep Art & Design, to attend Grand Valley; and the Thompson Working Families Scholars Program is awarded to students from Michigan working families.

Bob and Ellen have accomplished incredible results in their effort to lift families from poverty through education. Their generosity of spirit will have a ripple effect for generations to come.

The Thompson's Story

The Enrichment Awards

“Bob and I know the investments we're making in these young people will pay hefty dividends in the future, not only in their lives, but in their communities.”

-Ellen Thompson


Students thank couple responsible for scholarship programs Spotlight

Students thank couple responsible for scholarship programs

More than 100 Grand Valley students met and thanked the Detroit couple responsible for helping to fund their education during an event on October 14 at the L. William Seidman Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

Thompsons help students from working families realize dreams Spotlight

Thompsons help students from working families realize dreams

GVSU's largest scholarship program steers students to success.

Detroit couple increases scholarships to working families, Grand Valley students Spotlight

Detroit couple increases scholarships to working families, Grand Valley students

Hundreds of students at Grand Valley State University will get a financial boost thanks to the generosity of a Detroit area couple and their foundation.

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Page last modified May 11, 2022