Published in Nonprofits

Detroit-based Children’s Foundation seeks new partnerships in West Michigan

BY Thursday, June 06, 2019 07:45am

Operating under a new name, a Detroit-based foundation for children aims to carve out a philanthropic role in West Michigan and create a statewide presence.

The Children’s Foundation, formerly known as Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, looks to partner with charitable organizations across the region. The foundation formed its first partnerships with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, also known as WMed.

Lawrence Burns, president and CEO of The Children’s Foundation COURTESY PHOTO

The foundation seeks to forge additional partnerships on the west side of Michigan and have a dozen such relationships in place within a year, said President and CEO Lawrence Burns. Further partnerships will come in other markets, as The Children’s Foundation creates a statewide footprint, he added.

By extending the foundation’s reach into the western side of the state and then to other markets in Michigan, “we have the ability to assist and impact more children, young adults and families,” Burns told MiBiz. “We want to be part of the community and help kids.”

The first job toward that goal is to build trust and credibility in West Michigan, he added.

“One of the opportunities that excites me is the opportunity to be judged by our actions and what we do,” Burns said. “I want to be a listener and then a doer and then a partner.”

The new name and extension of The Children’s Foundation’s market comes eight years after it become an independent foundation following the 2011 acquisition of its parent, the Detroit Medical Center, by the for-profit Vanguard Health Systems. Vanguard was subsequently acquired by Tenet Healthcare in October 2013.

After hiring Burns as president and CEO in late 2016, the foundation began developing a new focus and vision as an “independent community foundation for children,” Burns said. By 2019, the foundation was ready to change from a name that was “very confusing to people.”

“We were ready to evolve our name,” he said.

The foundation at the end of 2017, when it was still known as Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, has total assets of $122.2 million, according to an annual financial statement filed with the IRS.

The Children’s Foundation may open an office in Grand Rapids, perhaps by the end of 2019 or in early 2020, giving it a physical presence in the market, according to Burns.

In addition to grants, the foundation also administers funds for other foundations and will work with organizations on their own fundraising efforts.

The Children’s Foundation recently awarded 57 grants totaling $1.8 million to 34 organizations. The spring grants were part of about $6 million the foundation has awarded so far in 2019 to groups that focus on mental health, injury prevention, abuse and neglect, oncology and cardiology research, and wellness and nutrition.

West Michigan grants included:

  • $57,740 to the Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to study rapid whole genome sequencing across large regions, ethnic and racial groups, and a larger number of pediatric patients. The sequencing may help to provide faster and more effective diagnoses of acutely children suspected of having a genetic condition.
  • $95,909 to WMU to create an Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center at WMed to provide pediatric psychology services in Southwest Michigan. The grant will pay for a full-time psychology intern as the program gets going, and support the cost of hosting a Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Conference at WMed’s new Autism Clinic.
  • $50,000 in Kent County to support Double Up Food Bucks, a program of the Ann Arbor-based Fair Food Network, for children of families that are recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to buy fresh produce. The grant matches funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • $25,000 to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan to increase the use of headgear and helmet use in children.
  • $10,000 to Michigan Elite 25 to expand a basketball camp program for elementary-aged children to Grand Rapids and Flint.
  • $5,000 for the Detroit Institute of Children to bring the Summer Learning Individualized Experiences day camp program to Muskegon. The program offers therapy and literacy lessons for special needs children.
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