Nonprofit receives $1.3M grant from foundation


A partial rendering of the amphitheater at the Blanford Nature Center in northwest Grand Rapids. Courtesy Blanford

A Grand Rapids nonprofit is nearing its $10.3-million goal, thanks to a grant from a local family foundation.

Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids said yesterday it has been given a $1.3-million grant from The Wege Foundation in Grand Rapids for its “Growing Up Blandford” campaign.

The funding campaign was first announced in fall 2014. To date, Blandford has raised $9.7 million toward its goal.

“We are very close to finishing this campaign and hope that The Wege Foundation’s gift will inspire others to help us wrap it up,” said Jason Meyer, president and CEO, Blanford.

The campaign funds will go toward the Mary Jane Dockeray Visitor Center and Mary Jane Dockeray Endowment Fund.

The 11,000-square foot building will include an updated Wildlife Education Center, a science lab and an auditorium, which can be rented for weddings, corporate retreats and other gatherings.

There will also be an outdoor patio and the Beckman-Gillett BEEP Amphitheater.

Blandford School students will benefit from the additions.

Each year, 60 sixth-grade students enter Blandford School, where they “learn about, fall in love with and take care of nature” in the 143-acre outdoor classroom the nature center provides. 

“The Wege Foundation has been a strong supporter of ours, and this gift shows their incredible dedication to conservation, education and our community,” Meyer said.

A public grand-opening ceremony for the new facility will be held on April 22, which coincides with Earth Day.

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