A new way to give back

GVL / Robert Mathews
James Edwards

GVL / Robert Mathews James Edwards

Ryan Jarvi

Grand Valley State University’s Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy has established a new position that will focus on community philanthropy.

The W.K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair, the first of its kind in the nation, was made possible through a $1.5 million gift from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kellogg Company’s 25-Year Employees’ Fund, which was put into an endowment to be used to offset expenses associated with the new position.

Karen Loth, vice president for University Development and executive director of the GVU Foundation, said the new position will speak to Kellogg’s vision of helping people help themselves.
“When you have an endowed position like this, it’s really a badge of honor for a university,” Loth said. “Anytime you can get firsts like this from a tremendous, tremendous organization like the
Kellogg Company and the Kellogg Foundation, it’s a tremendous honor.”

By 2005, the Kellogg Foundation had spent more than $3 billion over its 75 years of operation to help people help themselves, according to the organization’s website.

The individual who fills the new position will work with communities to improve their practice of philanthropy and be a nationally recognized expert in the field.

“We want a thought leader in this whole area because the Johnson Center is one of the top three philanthropic centers in the country,” Loth said. “You want someone who is really going to focus and be a leader in how communities give and practice philanthropy.”

Beverly Grant, associate director of the Johnson Center, said the center is in its initial stages of forming a search committee, and the process of finding a person to fill the position is expected to take somewhere between six to nine months.

“After a successful national search, we expect to fill this very prestigious position with someone who is a national thought leader and possesses the academic credentials and skill to engage community foundation leaders, corporate philanthropy directors, nonprofit executives and public officials,” Grant said.

Responsibilities of the position will ultimately come down to improving the field of community philanthropy and the many ways individuals and organizations take private action for the public good.

“As with most endowed chairs, funding to support the chair will be used to build knowledge and expertise in the arena of community philanthropy,” Grant said. “This is just one more example of how Grand Valley State University and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy value the importance of ensuring that through scholarly research, building knowledge and improving practice, nonprofits, foundations and others will continue to grow their philanthropic potential and transform their communities for public good.”

The person selected for the position will also conduct research, teach, speak, write articles and perform other activities aimed at building knowledge and understanding in effective community philanthropy. The Johnson Center’s philanthropy and nonprofit services, along with the Community Research Institute, have impacted over 2,400 philanthropic organizations, Grant said.

For more information about the center, visit www.gvsu.edu/jcp.

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