Anniversaries.  Anniversaries are a time to celebrate… a time to reflect.  Anniversaries are also a time to look forward.

2018 marks two very special anniversaries for the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation (GRSAF).  25 years from our founding and 15 years for our signature community event, MindShare!

Students enjoying their books during Good Things Happen to Readers

First, join me in celebration!  I am so grateful to our visionaries, who saw the need and role of community and philanthropy in education.  Former Superintendent Bert Bleke saw the important role that the community could play in our city’s schools.  And our Founding Scholars, our board of directors led by Chair Joan Secchia and Executive Director Susan Heartwell laid the cornerstone.  There is a legendary story at the GRSAF about how Grand Rapids Public Schools’ libraries had fallen into disrepair; books from the 1960s remained on the shelves, including the classic: “When Man Walks on the Moon.”  Looking to remedy this, the community banded together in an effort to update and restore our libraries and thus the story of how the MindShare Gala began!

Together, we have done so much since that first MindShare in 2003.  Our gala has raised over $2.4 Million in its 15 year history and our community continues to add frames and blocks – building on opportunities for our students.  From libraries, to enrichment trips.  From music and art supplies, to robotics teams. Our community has grown together in our belief that with opportunity, our students can thrive.

But we are not done.  We continue to look forward.  We look to add windows and doors, and new rooms of possibility.  The Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation is at the forefront of responding to the needs of education in the 21st Century.  Today, we are ensuring that GRPS students can participate in after-school sports with no cost to students or families through GR8 Sports, Great Kids.  And we know how important it is for all children to read at grade level by third grade, that’s why we are supporting GRPS efforts through a new Literacy Fund.  The Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation continues to strengthen and to build upon the foundation that our community has laid.

MindShare 2018 is about building the future!  Education has changed a lot throughout the years.  I was recently reminded of that fact when in Sherwood Park Elementary and students were no longer sitting at desks with paper and #2 pencils.  Instead, the desks held computers, and students were typing letters to pen pals in California and Australia.  Responses are returned within hours, rather than days, and learning happens across continents.

Our students need you today, more than ever before.  And your Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation is here- ready with hammers and CAD machines!  Will you join us as we BUILD on the foundation for student success?

BUILD!  The Future is NOW. 

MindShare 2018 is on Wednesday April 25 at the JW Marriott Hotel.


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