Nonprofit hires first development director


Matt Clark. Courtesy The Refugee Education Center

A nonprofit that helps integrate newly settled refugee families through education has its first development director.

Matt Clark began the role for The Refugee Education Center at the end of March.

He leads the organization’s fundraising, marketing and communications efforts.

The Kentwood-based nonprofit previously had lower-level development staff, but adding this new position will allow the center to accomplish more, according to Susan Kragt, the organization’s executive director.

"We know that this work is never done in insolation and that we need to support and grow our partnerships in the community,” Kragt said. “We brought Matt on to help us strengthen and grow our community partnerships, so that we can make a deeper impact in the lives of newcomers."

Clark said he knows moving to a strange place can be difficult for anyone, especially for those who are displaced from their homes and forced to move to a new country.

“In today’s age, I wanted to do my part to be a welcoming neighbor in Grand Rapids,” Clark said. “It’s important to me to feel like I’m giving back.”

Clark moved back to his home of West Michigan about a year ago after living in Nashville, Tennessee for several years. 

His previous roles in Nashville included partner development manager for Kindful, product and user experience manager for Creative Trust, executive director of Promise for Haiti and partnership manager for Blood: Water Mission.

Clark also offers nonprofit consulting through his firm Clark Nonprofit Consulting and has been working with clients in West Michigan to develop strategic planning, fund development and marketing.

He has been a board member for the Fulton Street Farmers Market since June.

He holds a B.A. in political science from Hope College and an M.Ed. in nonprofit leadership from Belmont University.

The Refugee Education Center

Founded 13 years ago, the center offers education support for refugee students and their families, including tutoring, workshops and home-based early learning.

In 2017, about 250 refugee students participated in Project Faulu, the nonprofit’s after-school and summer education program. More than 1,000 students and family members annually benefit from its school orientation and ongoing casework services.

The nonprofit has 18 staff members and more than 60 regular volunteers.

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