Grand Valley State University’s Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy has launched a new endowment to support professional development at local nonprofits that may not have the resources to grow.
The Juan Olivarez Learning Equity Endowment was made in honor of Dr. Juan Olivarez, who at the end of June completed a three-year position as GVSU’s Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“We wanted to recognize Juan’s commitment to communities of color and the nonprofit sector by being able to offer professional development and other services to nonprofits who might not otherwise have access,” said Johnson Center Executive Director Teri Behrens.
GVSU officials hope to grow the endowment “as big as possible,” Behrens said, although funds won’t be used until $50,000 has been raised, according to university policy.
“We’d like to reach that at least by the end of this year to start providing resources to the community,” she said.
Endowment funding would be used for professional development, allowing local nonprofit staffers to take Johnson Center workshops at free or reduced costs.
Olivarez’s three-year position at GVSU was funded by local nonprofits to help embed diversity, equity and inclusion considerations into local workforce and economic development programs while also applying the principles into the Johnson Center’s work, Behrens said.
Olivarez’s work included a capacity needs assessment for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) organizations. Researchers also worked to produce a recent video interviewing 30 people about what’s needed for a more inclusive economy in Grand Rapids.
Olivarez also made recommendations for improving equity within economic development as well as the Johnson Center. That includes a long-term goal to create an endowed chair at GVSU in diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We hope to be able to begin some fundraising on that in the near future,” Behrens said.
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