Equity Endowment Started For Small Michigan NPOs

The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), Allendale, Mich., has established the Juan Olivarez Learning Equity Endowment. Through the new endowment, small Michigan-based nonprofits will be able to access the Johnson Center’s professional services at a reduced or no cost.

Eligible nonprofits include Michigan-based organizations with budgets less than the median annual level in Michigan, which currently stands at $200,000, and which have historically faced challenges or barriers in accessing resources.

Scholarships may be used by nonprofit leaders to participate in professional development courses, shared classrooms and unique programs.

“We hope to see this endowment grow to a large-enough size over the next several months and years that we can meaningfully co-design needed programs with community members,” Johnson Center Executive Director Teresa Behrens said in a statement.

The endowment honors Juan Olivarez, Ph.D., a community leader and educator based in West Michigan. Olivarez served as the Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Johnson Center between 2018 and 2021. He completed his three-year term in the position in June, according to MIBiz.com.

During his career, Olivarez became the first Hispanic college or university president in the state of Michigan. He has served within the leadership of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and provided support for educational and economic equity efforts, including the Community Learning Enterprise at Grand Rapids Community College; and the Delta Strategy, which empowers Latino community initiatives. He also participated in producing a video that promoted the need for a more-inclusive economy within the Grand Rapids area, according to MIBiz.com.

Fundraising for the endowment is ongoing. The funds will become available for programmatic use once the endowment reaches a $50,000 threshold, in accordance with GVSU policy. The Johnson Center is currently raising funds from community members, organizations and donors to reach this goal by December 31, 2021. 

Those wishing to contribute to the endowment in support of its mission of boosting nonprofit organizations that are led by, and rooted in, communities may do so directly here: https://www.gvsu.edu/giving/give-online2.htm?fundId=30099