Health Care

Children’s Foundation expanding to West Michigan

Formerly the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, nonprofit granted nearly $239K to area organizations.

June 14, 2019
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A foundation that supports children’s wellness organizations is expanding into West Michigan and rebranding.

The Children’s Foundation, formerly the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, recently granted nearly $239,000 to several area organizations and plans to have a physical presence in West Michigan by the end of the year, according to Lawrence Burns, the foundation’s president and CEO.

The Children’s Foundation said it enables researchers and community organizations to identify and implement innovations capable of advancing children’s health through funding and advocacy in three core areas: community benefit, pediatric research and medical education.

This year, the foundation has awarded about $6 million to efforts for children’s and families’ mental health, injury prevention, abuse and neglect, oncology and cardiology research, and wellness and nutrition. The foundation annually awards grants that begin in July and January.

The Detroit-based foundation historically has supported organizations on the state’s east side but has been working on a plan for the past year to impact more children in West Michigan, Burns said.

In order to do that, Burns said it’s important to show a commitment to their intentions, which is why the foundation recently granted funds to West Michigan organizations ahead of establishing its physical presence.

“To be really accepted by the communities that we want to serve, we have to be in the communities on a permanent basis,” Burns said. “We thought the best way to start was to grant some money.”

He said the goal is that continuing to engage with these organizations will lead to relationships with other organizations, leading to a strengthened presence in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and beyond.

“As we develop our partnerships, our relationships, our credibility, in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, that will allow us to raise money in those communities because we're not doing that now,” Burns said. “We first needed to give money to prove how we are a good partner and that we really want to be part of the community.”

Last year, the foundation expanded to Washtenaw County with a grant to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. After expanding its presence in West Michigan, he said the organization may look toward expanding in Traverse City and Mount Pleasant.

The Children’s Foundation will continue to fund several charitable efforts historically under its oversight, including the Jamie Daniels Foundation.

Burns said he plans to hire one full-time person to head foundation operations in West Michigan.

Burns said the foundation likely would share office space in Grand Rapids at first, possibly with Windsor, Ontario-based Douglas Marketing Group, the company that has been working on rebranding the Children’s Foundation.

Douglas Marketing Group also is looking to establish a permanent, expanded presence in West Michigan in the same timeframe, according to Joe Ranck, the company’s chief operating officer. A longtime client of Douglas Marketing is Grand Rapids-based event management company ShowSpan.

Burns said the foundation joined the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce so it can use that meeting space until getting its own.

Recent recipients

The Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine received $95,909 to help create an Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center, meant to provide pediatric psychology services to southwest Michigan. The grant will add a full-time psychology intern to the behavioral health staff for one year while the program gets underway, as well as support the expenses of hosting a Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Conference to enhance the school’s new autism clinic.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital received $57,740 for a study to examine the acute and long-term clinical utility of rapid whole-genome sequencing across larger regions, ethnic and racial groups, and larger numbers of pediatric patients. This process may provide more rapid and effective diagnosis of disease for acutely ill children suspected of having a genetic condition.

The Fair Food Network received $50,000 for its Double Up Food Bucks program in Kent County, helping provide access to fresh produce to families who receive public food assistance. This grant will be a match to funds received from the USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program.

The Brain Injury Association of Michigan received $25,000 toward its HEAD Smart program, designed to instill habitual helmet use in children.

The Detroit Institute of Children received $5,000 to bring the Summer Learning Individualized Developmental Experiences (SLIDE) day camp program to children in Muskegon. This program is intended to address summer learning loss in children with special needs by offering therapy and literacy improvement lessons and educational field trips.

Michigan Elite 25 received $5,000 to expand its basketball camp program to Grand Rapids. The one-day camp focuses on character development, leadership, goal setting, and health and nutrition for elementary school children in grades 4-6.

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