Ferris State University has announced that the Grand Rapids Community Foundation awarded a three-year grant valued at $150,000 to the university’s Latino Business and Economic Development Center (LBEDC). The funds, awarded from the foundation’s Fund for Community Good, will be used for programming that helps address issues of workforce development, economic disparity, civic engagement, and overall leadership development in Grand Rapids’ Latino community.
“Ferris State University is extremely grateful to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation for its support of our Latino Business and Economic Development Center,” said Ferris President David Eisler (pictured, right). “This investment will help strengthen and support the work of (LBEDC Director) Carlos Sanchez with young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs, creating opportunities for success both in the workplace and community.”
The Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Fund for Community Good provides unrestricted funding to applicants who meet certain criteria.
“Grand Rapids Community Foundation is committed to working with community partners like Ferris State University to build an inclusive economy to grow a thriving community,” said Grand Rapids Community Foundation President Diana Sieger. “This program amplifies the ability for our region to thrive due to the focus on diversity. The bilingual, culturally-relevant and mentorship-based efforts of the LBEDC have proven to help young people gain workplace and community leadership skills and grow networks of support.”
With the increased funding, LBEDC leaders expect to add more programming and networking opportunities for its participants.
“The Grand Rapids Community Foundation grant will help fund programs that equip young Latino professionals with the skills, resources, and confidence needed to become leaders at work and in their own communities,” said Ferris Latino Business and Economic Development Center Director Carlos Sanchez (pictured, right). “Our Latino entrepreneurs will be more prepared to launch and expand successful businesses and empowered to take ownership of their future.” Sanchez is also a member of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation board of trustees.
This grant builds on the core priority of building partnerships and community development initiatives that Ferris State University and The Ferris Foundation outlined in its $80 million comprehensive campaign, Now & Always, which was publicly launched in November of 2017.
Under president David Eisler’s direction, Ferris State University has taken a leadership role in committing resources and encouraging economic growth in West Michigan by working to develop young Latinos into leaders. The university believes the entire West Michigan region benefits.
“The Latino community in the United States is rapidly growing and will continue to have a profound impact on society, culture, the workforce, our economy and our businesses,” adds Eisler. “By ensuring that we are developing strong leaders who understand themselves as professionals and the importance of civic engagement, Ferris is helping Michigan move forward.”
Since its inception in 2013, the LBEDC’s Latino Talent Initiative has graduated nearly
100 individuals and has seen 50 people participate in the 11-week Latino Entrepreneurship
Initiative program since 2017.
PHOTO CAPTION: Shown in this image is Ferris State University’s Latino Talent Initiative Graduation Class of 2018.