Johnson Center receives gift for innovation fund

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy –

Devin Dely

The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University is receiving a generous gift from namesake and co-founder Dorothy Johnson. Over the years, she has been consistently active in the betterment of the center, and her latest contribution will pour nearly half a million dollars into the creation of the Dorothy A. Johnson Philanthropy Innovation Fund. 

According to Executive Director Kyle Caldwell, this fund is designed to support innovation and exploration in philanthropy and to develop future programs. 

“Dottie’s leadership in philanthropy is really reflected in this gift,” he said. “She worked as a transformative leader in philanthropy, so what her gift is designed to do is identify any challenges or opportunities we see in philanthropy and develop innovative new programs to address them.”

The center was founded by Johnson and her husband in 1992 and has grown enormously since then. As an academic center within GVSU’s College of Community and Public Service, the center has seen many changes over the years, but it has always remained committed to helping nonprofits be more effective and building a culture of philanthropy. 

“The Johnsons have been early-on supporters of GVSU dating back to Paul Johnson, a former trustee of the university,” Caldwell said. “When you look at this gift and others Dottie has been instrumental in helping secure, she has been the center of all the transformative work that we’ve done here at the Johnson Center. It’s in keeping with her long-standing and thoughtful commitment to Grand Valley, and specifically the Johnson Center.”

Though the effects of this latest gift from the Johnson family remain to be seen, it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the development of new programs and the culture of giving in West Michigan. 

“What we’re doing right now is listening to what the local needs, challenges and opportunities are,” Caldwell said. “This is structured as an innovation fund, and it wasn’t structured about any particular activity, but (about what) philanthropy needs right now.”