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The Ferris Foundation | Grand Rapids

The Ferris Foundation - Grand Rapids
  •  About

    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 ([email protected]), Executive Director of Leadership Gifts and Relationships Grand Rapids Region and Associate Director of The Ferris Foundation, leads this effort in partnership with the Ferris Grand Rapids Council.

    Ferris Grand Rapids Council
    The vision of the council is to build a robust Bulldog community that ensures every area student has an accessible pathway to a Ferris education and a successful career. A group of dedicated volunteers, the council collaborates with the Ferris Foundation to cultivate Bulldog Pride, support Ferris' economic impact, and increase educational opportunity in the Grand Rapids area. 

    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.

    Since 1991, 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.

    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.
  •  Events

    Growing Opportunity: A Partner Celebration
    May 11, 2021

    Each year, the Ferris Grand Rapids Council hosts its signature fundraiser to highlight and honor the local successes of Ferris State University and its students in Grand Rapids. Proceeds from the event benefit college scholarships to local students through the West Michigan Opportunity Scholarship.

    For more information or to become a Growing Opportunity Sponsor, visit the event website.

    Dawg Catcher Fall Service Project

    The Ferris Grand Rapids Council gives back to the West Michigan community through a volunteer project each fall. Council members and their friends, families, and co-workers, as well as other community members and Friends of Ferris are welcome to participate on behalf of Ferris State University. 

    Alumni Events
    View all alumni events

  •  Initiatives-Partnerships

    West Michigan Opportunity Scholarship
    In the West Michigan area, there are talented students who have dire need, but aren't eligible for scholarships because they come in just under the usual scholarship GPA. The West Michigan Opportunity Scholarship broadens scholarship availability beyond those who are already high-achieving, creating a base of support for West Michigan Ferris State University students to succeed. Support this scholarship online.

    Selected Partnerships and Locations

  •  Council Members

    Richard Antonini II (Co-Chair)
    Partner, Plante Moran
    Ferris State University: Accounting

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

    Wayne Bersano
    Agent, New York Life Insurance Company
    Ferris State University: Hospitality Administration/Management

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

    Mary E. Dale
    Global Vice President of Human Resources, Convivial Brands
    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
    Professor of Marketing, Ferris State University
    Ferris Foundation Board of Directors
    Northwestern University: Advertising, Political Science

    Andrew Kapanowski
    Real Estate Sales Specialist, NAI Wisinski of West Michigan
    Ferris State University: Business Administration

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

    Andy Maier
    Vice President Of Business Development, Freshwater Digital
    Ferris State University: Business Administration/Advertising

    Evvia Marshall
    Sr. Consumer Insight Analyst, Priority Health
    Ferris State University: Computer Information Systems

    Drew Mayer
    Account Manager, Trace3
    Ferris State University: Business, Management, Marketing and Sales

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

    Andy O'Brien
    Benefits Consultant, Axios Incorporated
    Ferris State University: Business Marketing

    David Pagan
    Security Police, Spectrum Health  
    Arbor Circle and Bethany Youth/Social Work 
    Ferris State University: Criminal Justice

    Scott Seifferlein
    Chief Business Development Advocate, First Community Bank
    Ferris State University: Business, Marketing, Golf Management

    Laura Smith
    Director - Account Management, VisiQuate, Inc
    Ferris State University: Project Management

    Betsey Spayde RPh
    Property Manager and Owner, FMG Properties, LLC
    Ferris State University: Pharmacy

    Mike Van Diepenbos (Co-Chair)
    Group Manager – Business Banking, Comerica Bank
    Ferris State University: Business Administration