Community Foundation receives $1M donation

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Mike Goorhouse. Courtesy Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area

The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CHFZ) received an anonymous donation of $1 million to support its scholarship fund.

The gift will establish an endowment and help sustain and expand the Holland/Zeeland Promise Scholarship. According to CHFZ, the donor hopes to inspire other individuals, families and companies who might be interested in supporting the Holland/Zeeland Promise.

The Holland/Zeeland Promise was established in 2010 by a group of local community members and business leaders who wished to help students pursue a college education without the burden of student debt. The program was established as a last-dollar scholarship, meaning, after other grants and scholarships have been applied, the program will cover remaining tuition, books, and room and board costs.

Recipients of the scholarship often are the first in their families to go to college. Seventy-seven students to date have received the scholarship, with 12 more recipients being added this spring.

“We are deeply humbled by the trust this donor has in CFHZ to use this gift to impact many lives,” said Mike Goorhouse, president and CEO, CHFZ. “We refer to the promise as ‘our community’s scholarship’ for a reason — it exists to empower some of our brightest students and ensure they can access the educational opportunities that will help them, and our community as a whole, succeed. We are thrilled that the generous donor of this extraordinary contribution, while wishing to remain anonymous, is allowing us to spread the word about this gift in the hopes of inspiring future acts of philanthropy.”

Goorhouse said additional gifts to the Promise endowment already have been secured, and foundation staff will continue to fundraise with hopes of building an endowment that will support more students each year.

Stacy Timmerman, director of scholarships for CFHZ, engaged Thompson M-TEC Career and Corporate Training Institute and Mosaic Counseling to enhance services offered to Promise scholars. The Corporate Training Institute provides career counseling, and Mosaic offers mental health care for students as they navigate college life. CFHZ staff also provides monthly check-ins with students to see how they are handling classes and ensure they are able to access resources.

Michael Griffor. Courtesy Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area

“A common thread (among) Promise scholars is that we are changing the course of our family histories — we are the first in our families to attend college,” said Michael Griffor, current recipient of the scholarship. “The Promise program helps us realize that dream without the worry of burdening our families with a daunting amount of debt, which, in many cases, would prevent higher education from being a plausible option. To the donor of this incredible gift, and the many others who suppose the Promise, thank you for believing in us and valuing higher education.”

Through the support and resources provided through CFHZ’s scholarship fund, 94% of Promise recipients have graduated and often return to the greater Holland/Zeeland area to work and live.

More information is available here.

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