Forty Under Forty collaborators: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts


Grand Rapids’ long-held position as the second most philanthropic community in the nation has been epitomized by the example of the donations to community endeavors from Rich DeVos and his family members.

Grand Rapids Business Journal reports on philanthropy and planned giving, providing an in-depth look at the organizations and people leading such efforts and the sustainability of philanthropy in West Michigan. That sustainability now rests with a second and third generation who believe it is important to share one’s personal wealth for the benefit of an entire community.

The Business Journal notes at least two sure bets about the upcoming generation of philanthropists: Such beneficence will need new measures and the manner may be far more experiential than that of their elders.

Kyle Caldwell, executive director at the nationally recognized Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, noted institutional estate planners as well as the varied nonprofit organizations should be ready for the next generation. “This generation is institution agnostic. They use technology to go directly to cause.” He added, “There’s an expectation to have a straight line from time, talent, treasure to the people it’s affecting.”

The Business Journal has noted examples of those observations in the last several classes of the 40 Under Forty business leaders, selected by independent judges from eastern Michigan. This year alone, a dozen of these future leaders already have created new nonprofits for specific needs, including those heretofore deemed unseemly. Examples include:

— Janelle Marie Davis, founder of the STD Project as well as state and national support groups.

— Nikeidra Battle-DeBarge, who created new Destiny Pathways Inc. to provide affordable and supportive independent housing to young women in foster care.

— West Point graduate Heather Jangraw, who created Team Red, White and Blue to better connect veterans to the community.

— Jamiel Robinson, founder and CEO of Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses.

— Architect Amanda Winn, founder and executive director of the Children’s Healing Center.

— Keli Christopher, the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering at University of Illinois, who created STEM Greenhouse to prepare minority and female youth for STEM careers.

From his very first community initiative, DeVos helped create a collaborative environment that expanded on possibilities and initiatives like building blocks.

The sum of many far exceeds what one can do alone. The Business Journal believes that, too, needs to be sustained, especially as far fewer next-generation members regard where the baby-boomer generation has left off.

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