The Ferris Foundation | Grand Rapids

The Ferris Foundation - Grand Rapids

The Ferris Foundation in Grand Rapids
Ferris State University’s Grand Rapids Advancement office provides the vision, leadership, and management for fundraising efforts in West Michigan. The office brings together university partners to strategically develop funding models and cohesive messaging to share with the community. Barbara Benda, Executive Director of Leadership Giving and Relationships, leads this effort.

Ferris State University in Grand Rapids
In Grand Rapids, Ferris State University meets students “where they are”. Beyond traditional college recruitment, Ferris Grand Rapids works with under-connected and under-represented communities: listening, identifying needs, and finding partners.

For over 25 years, Ferris Grand Rapids has been building these bridges for the educational and professional achievement of current and future students while cultivating a vibrant and supportive community around them. This important work is not done alone, in a vacuum. Our work engages partner organizations that in turn make our programming more robust and valuable to students.

Our Work Today and in the Future
Ferris State University has laid institutional foundations in Grand Rapids for many years. Moving forward, our work will focus on our strengths:

  • Ferris Grand Rapids will address financial barriers with comprehensive scholarship development. Ferris Grand Rapids will cultivate a welcoming and inclusive outreach to diverse populations, meeting students of all backgrounds and walks of life “where they are”.

  • Ferris Grand Rapids will echo the larger university’s commitment to graduating students who are ready to work, emphasizing hands-on experiences and real-world skills. Through collaboration and community partnerships today, we will offer our students and the larger Grand Rapids community a head start on the agility and scholarship to adapt for tomorrow.

  • Ferris Grand Rapids will remain a community of learners. Collaborating in meaningful ways is dependent on the humility to acknowledge that no person or institution has all the answers. Ferris Grand Rapids is unencumbered by the restrictions of a conventional institution. Instead, we are a living, adaptive organization that is very comfortable in ambiguous space.


Ferris Latino Talent Initiative Graduation: March 22, 2018 at UICA

Late September, 2018: Ferris 2018 Homecoming Festivities

November 2nd, 2018: Ferris 2018 Foundation Benefit for Excellence

Mid-November, 2018: Ferris Grand Rapids participation in the Wine, Beer and Food Festival

Early December, 2018: President’s Holiday Reception - Grand Rapids

*Exact dates to be updated as they become available





View all alumni events

West Michigan Opportunity Scholarship
The West Michigan Opportunity Scholarship will support scholarships for area students to attend Ferris State University.  Support this scholarship online.

Promesa Summer Success
The purpose of the Summer Success Program is to allow eligible students to

  1. Establish credit and proficiency in mathematics and reading at or beyond the developmental level before starting post secondary work,

  2. Enhance their admissions credentials so that they may qualify for admissions to a postsecondary institution of their choice,

  3. Enhance their knowledge of core subjects to improve their ACT scores for postsecondary admission and financial aid,

  4. Complete up to nine college credits during the summer to enhance their prospects for postsecondary completion, degree completion and reduce student debt, and

  5. Build on the students' individual strengths to navigate the High Education System.

Latino Business and Economic Development Center
The purpose of the Latino Business and Economic Development Center (LBEDC) is to provide leadership and community entrepreneurship development for [email protected] professionals interested in contributing to the overall economic development of Latino communities of West Michigan. LBEDC will develop leaders that demonstrate cultural competency by combining traditional leadership curriculum with curriculum created to understand the cultural aspects of the Latino population. The Center also focuses its efforts to promote community entrepreneurialism with the goal of preparing individuals to build economic opportunity for all.

Richard Antonini II
Partner, Plante Moran
Ferris State University: Accounting

Dan Bailey
VP/Project Executive, Rockford Construction
Ferris State University: Construction Technology & Management

Chuck Christmas
EVP - Chief Financial Officer at Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Ferris State University: Accounting

Mary E. Dale
Metron Integrated Health Systems
Ferris State University:  Applied Speech Communications

Jean K. Elder
CEO and Senior Partner, J.K. Elder and Associates
Ferris Foundation Board of Directors
Ferris State University: Honorary Doctorate, A&S D. Pub Srv
University of Michigan: Development Psychology, Education, Organizational Development

Mary Anne Jones
CFO and SVP of Operations, Priority Health
Ferris State University: Accounting

Susan K. Jones
Ferris Foundation Board of Directors
Ferris State University: Professor of Marketing
Northwestern University: Advertising, Political Science

Kurt Knoth
Vice President of System Supply Chain, Spectrum Health
Ferris State University: Operations Management

Brad Laackman
President & CEO, Honor Construction
Ferris State University: Construction Management

Andy Maier
Marketing Communications Manager
Gordon Food Service

Paola Mendivil
Owner, El Granjero
Ferris State University:  Business Administration

Megan Schmidt
Vice President of Sales & Client Services, Priority Health
Ferris State University: Business Administration

Betsey Spayde
FMG Properties, LLC
Ferris State University:  Pharmacy

Mike Van Diepenbos
Group Manager – Business Banking, Comerica Bank
Ferris State University: Business Administration