2021 Annual Report: Re-centering

  A Letter From Our President: Daniel Williams  

I recently read Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson. Early in the book, she outlines a powerful metaphor for our country, likening America to “an old house” with all its quirks and character. She writes: Wind, flood, drought, and human upheavals batter a structure that is already fighting whatever flaws were left unattended in the original foundation. When you live in an old house, you may not want to go into the basement after a storm to see what the rains have wrought. Choose not to look, however, at your own peril. The owner of an old house knows that whatever you are ignoring will never go away… Ignorance is no protection from the consequences of inaction. Whatever you are wishing away will gnaw at you until you gather the courage to face what you would rather not see. (p. 15)

Our community, like so many others, is facing a reckoning. The floods and fissures of the past couple of years have forced us to go into the basement, to investigate problems that many have ignored, to reckon with realities we have been putting off for a very long time, as this weight is not new. These struggles and frustrations and anger are not emergent but ever present. Our current reality is the fruit of systems and structures that are intersectional and rooted in hundreds of years of oppression and racial injustice.

Every sector has deep and important work to do. Philanthropy has a storied and complicated role that intersects through so much of our society–a role that many have written, studied, and challenged. Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance by Edgar Villanueva, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas, and countless articles, podcasts, conversations, and books question the very existence of the sector and the power it wields.

These questions, concerns, and distrust were and are at the front of my mind during this first year as President + CEO of the Steelcase Foundation. bell hooks wrote “I celebrate teaching that enables transgressions – a movement against and beyond boundaries. It is that movement which makes education the practice of freedom.” Much like our flawed education system, philanthropy must get comfortable with being uncomfortable, embracing “transgressions,” and most importantly, doing the difficult and important work of challenging our assumptions, listening, and interrogating our own systems, structures, and the apparatus that led to the extraction of wealth in the first place.

Our last year has been rooted in our team and Board of Trustees working through a design process, centering community voice in our grantmaking through two driving questions:

  • What essential conditions can the Steelcase Foundation create that would most effectively support communities facing inequity?
  • What are the structures within the Steelcase Foundation itself that would most effectively support communities facing inequity?

With these questions in mind, we engaged in deep listening with organizations we have supported in the past, those we declined to support, and organizations and individuals who had never heard of Steelcase or the Foundation. We sought to better understand the needs of our community, their experiences in engaging with us, and what it means (or could mean) to be an authentic community partner.

With these learnings in hand, we revised our vision, mission, and guiding principles and developed a new grantmaking strategy to include three key areas: Elevating Community Brilliance + Expertise; Strategic Partnerships to Meet Community Needs; and Systemic Change and Movement Building.

These strategic areas support:

  • Emerging nonprofits closest to community, providing them with tools to build capacity and strengthen impact.
  • Allow us to engage with nonprofits deeply entrenched in the work, supporting them as they continue to do what works, as well as invest in new ideas and approaches as they emerge.
  • Help us to leverage the influence we have as a foundation to inform philanthropy and drive larger-scale social change.

To bring the new vision, mission, and strategies to fruition, we’ve revised our application and reporting process, adopted a new grantmaking software, and hired a new Program Officer to directly support a more engaged, collaborative, and proactive grantmaking process. We also created a brand identity to better reflect our vision of uplifting community brilliance, created a new website to celebrate and showcase the work of our grantees and our continued learning as a foundation, revised our fiscal year to make it easier to report out on our endowment activities, and celebrated our 70th birthday at the end of December. We’ve made a lot of progress, and we are excited to continue our learning in the coming year with a renewed vision and purpose (and slightly larger team) as we support children and families in our community.

Our work is interconnected. To extend Wilkerson’s metaphor, we spend much of our time in different rooms of this old American house, but when we walk across the creaky floor in our upstairs room, it rattles the ceiling below us. As a foundation, we have so much more to do and to learn. We will fall short and most certainly make mistakes. Nevertheless, we will continue to work on our room while we challenge, support, and walk alongside others as our community attends to the “uneven pillars and joists” of this house we share.

Daniel Williams

President + CEO | Steelcase Foundation

  Our 2021 Impact  

$ 4300000
($2,023,816.14 future)

Total Giving

$ 3600000
($2,014,816.14 future)


$ 30000
($9,000 future)


$ 600000

Matching Gifts


Social Emotional Growth and Safety through Diverse, Inclusive, and Equitable Mentoring
Grant: $75,000 ($150,000)


Grant: $25,000 ($25,000)

Comprehensive Health Initiative for Homeless Youth

Grant: $80,000

Birth Equity Through Doulas of Color

Grant: $30,000 ($30,000)

Learning Assistance Program

Grant: $50,000

STEM Squad

Grant: $35,000 ($35,000)

A Voice for Every Child

Grant: $16,948 ($16,948)

Office of Foundation Liaison Support

Grant: $15,000 ($15,000)

Photo courtesy of our friends at Diatribe Inc.

2021 Membership Dues
Grant: $11,800
Opening the Female Floor
Grant: $25,000 ($50,000)

Project 49507 – a POC-LQBTQ and youth-led arts and culture project for and by people of color

Grant: $50,000 ($50,000)

Empowering Parents Impacting Children (EPIC)

Grant: $260,000

Growing the West Michigan Community by strengthening the infrastructure of Black Theatre

Grant: $25,000 ($50,000)

Leading Innovation in Human Capital Strategies for Improvement in West Michigan High-Poverty Schools

Grant: $350,000

Leadership Capacity Grandville Avenue Girls Choir Success

Grant: $20,750 ($20,750)

A City Within A City

Grant: $250,000

Empowering People to Connect through Art, Creativity, and Design

Grant: $175,000 ($175,000)

2021 Support for Nonprofit Technical Assistance Fund

Grant: $30,000

Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship

Grant: $100,000

Resourcing the Future

Grant: $175,000

Storytime GR: A Citywide Summer Literacy Program

Grant: $35,000 ($70,000)

Nonprofit Funders Dialogue Series

Grant: $5,000

Photo courtesy of our friends at Boys + Girls Club of North Alabama

Community-Led Evaluation for Cook Library After School

Grant: $50,000 ($100,000)

2021 Membership Dues

Grant: $2,700

2021 Annual Campaign

Grant: $450,000

Retirement Gift in Honor of Julie Ridenour

Grant: $10,000

Collective Impact in Kent County

Grant: $125,000 ($125,000)

Engineering is Elementary

Grant: $20,575

Sustaining LTR Programs for Adult and Student Advancement

Grant: $15,000 ($30,000)

Family Literacy Program

Grant: $30,000 ($60,000)

Broad-based Organizing for Effective Civic Formation and Engagement

Grant: $90,000

Kids Count: Building Community with Advocates and Storytellers in West Michigan

Grant: $25,000

Photo courtesy of our friends at Refugee Education Center

Youth and Teen Mental Health First Aid
Grant: $48,184.07 ($96,368.14)
The Learning Café
Grant: $25,000 ($25,000)

Hands Connected Learning Center and Network Expansion

Grant: $100,000 ($100,000)

Three-Year Capacity Building to Impact Excluded Entrepreneurs

Grant: $73,000 ($237,750)

Collective Research to Disrupt Labor Trafficking

Grant: $50,000 ($100,000)

Building Tomorrow’s Champions – Unified Champion School Expansion

Grant: $50,000 ($100,000)


Grant: $50,000

STEM Scholars After School Enrichment Program for Middle School Students

Grant: $30,000 ($30,000)

Circles Grand Rapids Expansion

Grant: $25,000 ($50,000)

West Michigan Leadership Academy

Grant: $315,400

2021 Annual Campaign

Grant: $44,000

APRA as an Opportunity to Shift Behaviors

Grant: $75,000

Cure Violence

Grant: $100,000 ($200,000)

SON Project 2.0

Grant: $2,000

Photo courtesy of our friends at WMCAT

Teen Arts + Tech Program

Grant: $50,000 ($50,000)

Gift in Honor of Jim Keane’s Retirement

Grant: $25,000


2021 Operations

$35,003.75 ($9,000)

  Gift Matching  







  Financial Activities  

Statements of Financial Position

Year ended December 31, 2021

in April the board voted to change the fiscal year from November 30 to December 31 so the year is a 13 month period.

Cash & Cash Equivalents$5,516, 281$2,849,901
Pending Trade Receivables$3,635,574
Loan Receivable$270,872
Federal Excise Tax Refundable$54,685
Total Assets$143,675,426$114,144,478

Liabilities & Net Assets12/31/202111/30/2020
Liabilities: Grants Payable$2,253,868$3,021,871
Net Assets: Unrestricted$141,421,558$111,122,607
Total Liabilities & Net Assets$143,675,426$114,144,478

Statements of Activities

Year ended December 31, 2021

in April the board voted to change the fiscal year from November 30 to December 31 so the year is a 13 month period.

In-Kind Contributions$589,470$440,609
Investment Income, Net$33,949,121$10,392,550
Total Revenues$34,670,591$12,675,159

Grants & Matching Gifts$3,677,485$5,177,770
Management & General$694,155$496,908
Total Expenses$4,371,640$5,674,678

Net Assets, Beginning of Period$111,122,607$104,122,126
Nest Assets, End of Period$141,421,558$111,122,607
Changes in Net Assets$30,298,951$7,000,481

Photo courtesy of our friends at Together West Michigan (formerly Micah Center)

We take an innovative approach to philanthropy

Our three community investment strategies advance the Foundation’s mission and are supported by our Guiding Principles to cumulatively move the community, sector, and Foundation closer to the vision where the inherent brilliance of our community is embraced, and efforts are focused on creating conditions where all can participate, grow, and thrive.