This year Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has chosen Grand Rapids Community Foundation as the recipient of its 2014 Diversity Visionary Award. Created by the Chamber in 2003, the award recognizes an individual or organization for their exemplary efforts, advancements and contributions to ensure diversity, inclusion and equity within their own institution or community.
“Grand Rapids Community Foundation has been a true leader in fostering a more welcoming, inclusive and equitable community. We are pleased to honor the organization for their sustained efforts at the board and staff levels as well as their successful track record in making an impact on the behaviors, policies and strategies in the region,” said Rick Baker, Chamber president and CEO.
“This award demonstrates how important inclusion is in continuing to build a vibrant and dynamic community, and it brings attention to the issue. We have devoted, and will continue to devote, our time and commitment to assuring that all voices are heard and all members of our community are at the table. We intend our organizational culture to model equity in everything we do,” said Diana Sieger, Community Foundation president.
“For more than 25 years, Grand Rapids Community Foundation has been deliberately trying to increase diversity and inclusion, internally and with our grantees. When we established our first volunteer committee to review grants, it was intentionally diverse in its make-up. That opened the door for further conversations throughout the organization on this subject,” said Marcia Rapp, vice president of programs and diversity co-champion.
The Community Foundation focus on diversity and inclusion has become part of our organizational culture and involves staff, trustees and grantees. This award comes on the heels of important work that the Community Foundation has been doing to move the issues of diversity, inclusion and cultural competency forward. As an example, over the last few years, three staff teams (of four to five people) participated in year-long statewide cultural competency learning groups with other foundations. “Facilitated by specialists in this area of knowledge, these peer learning groups fanned the fire and created enthusiasm across the organization,” Marcia said. Additionally, all staff and trustees take a personal inventory of their cultural views. This inventory helps determine where each person is on their cultural competency journey.
Recently, the Board of Trustees approved a strong diversity and inclusion policy for use with nonprofits who are applying for general grants. “Our mode is to ‘work with’ not ‘do to’ others, so we are working with community experts to assemble a palette of resources that nonprofits and others can tap for continuous improvement in the area of cultural competence,” Marcia said.
“Each day as I work with donors and the community, the importance of diversity and inclusion becomes more apparent. Although one can grow fatigued along the way, reflecting on the successes provides the energy and determination to keep going. I am honored to be a part of the leadership team at the Community Foundation as we further this work internally and externally,” said Jonse Young, donor services director and diversity co-champion.
Past Recipients of the Diversity Vision Award include:
2013: Faye Richardson-Green, Steelcase Inc.
2011: Bing Goei, Eastern Floral & Goei Center
2009: Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
2007: Cascade Engineering Inc.
2005: James P. Hackett, Steelcase Inc.
2003: Bob Woodrick, D & W Foods