Director's message

The Foundation’s new Neighborhood Initiative was successfully launched under the capable leadership of Lee Nelson Weber.

As part of the Initiative, we completed a base-line study of the existing housing, education, income, and crime conditions in selected neighborhoods; assessed residents’ interests and concerns; identified mortgage lending practices within the city; and worked with many neighborhood-based groups to address issues of poverty. We are also offering a management training series to strengthen neighborhood leaders’ ability to solve community problems. These efforts have coincided with the City’s master plan and have given central city residents a meaningful voice in defining priorities.

We will continue to assist neighborhood groups as they establish effective and collaborative programs that help residents build personal wealth and stable lives. It takes a variety of roles to create the mosaic of a welcoming and successful neighborhood-committeed volunteers, knowledgeable leaders, and strong programs. Only after all these elements are present can donated dollars effectively and efficiently improve a community.

Our competitive small grants program continues to enable us to support frontline volunteers, leaders, and programs. I am grateful to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees whose understanding of community and clarity of focus greatly simplifies my job. And the Board and I continue to be awed by the dedication and abilities of the people and agencies we fund. As you read about the projects highlighted in this report, we hope you will join us in commending the community residents and organizations whose good works help create a sense of community progress within the central city of Grand Rapids.