Tuesday, 23 October 2012 17:13

Professional Philanthropist: Q&A with Roberta King, PR and marketing vice president for Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Written by  Lindsay Patton-Carson
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Can you describe what the Community Foundation does?

It’s easiest to understand it with three things: Gifts, growth and grants. So, the Community Foundation accepts gifts from people. Gifts come in and we grow them through the market. Most of our money is invested. Through that market growth, each year, we take a portion and make grants. We make about 11 million dollars of grants every year.

So local nonprofits apply for grants through the Community Foundation?

Yes, we have an online grant system and we grant in some priority areas that we feel there’s a lot of community need. So economic prosperity or environmental integrity, the arts and social enrichment … We grant in these areas and any nonprofit located in Kent County can apply for a grant.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I get to get out and meet the people who are recipients of our grants and hear their stories. I also get to work with our donors and finding out about their philanthropy … So it’s really nice because I get to talk with people with financial means about giving, and I get to talk to the recipients of the goods.

What are some of your favorite personal causes?

I’ve always been a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood. I’m 110 percent behind the work they do for women’s health and reproductive health. I’ve been a financial supporter of (citizen journalism site) The Rapidian and the Community Media Center. A significant amount of my money goes to a place called Bay Cliff Health Camp, which is a camp up in the U.P.  where my son (Noah, who passed away from a respiratory arrest in 2006) went for four or five summers. It’s a camp for kids [and adults] with special needs … It offers physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and music therapy … It’s one of those camps that really does magical, miracle things. 

Photo: Terry Johnston

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