Capital Campaign

GRCC's Capital Campaign: A Broader Vision

Fundraising campaign seeks $15 million goal for student scholarships, building renovations

With $12 million raised toward a $15 million goal, the GRCC Foundation launched the public phase of “A Broader Vision” with a press conference May 14 on the Dr. Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza.

“Grand Rapids Community College is the pathway to success for many in West Michigan, but there are so many more people who need help to remove the barriers that are keeping them from getting the education they need,” President Bill Pink said. “We also need our facilities to be a 21st-century learning environment so students can gain up-to-date skills needed for rewarding careers in a rapidly changing, global economy.”

The campaign’s three goals touch the students on campus — and the community beyond:

1. Strengthening scholarship funding 

While the GRCC Foundation awards more than $1 million in scholarships annually to more than 900 students, that still leaves a large group of students whose needs are unmet. A scholarship has a huge impact on success at GRCC: 95 percent of students who have been awarded scholarships have stayed in college and completed their studies; the completion rate for those who didn’t receive assistance drops to 70 percent. A majority of those who’ve benefited from our scholarships have expressed their intention to “pay it forward” and help others.

2. Renovating Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall 

The former Main Building has been a fixture here for almost as long as we’ve been a college, with more than 5,200 students making use of it every week. Plans call for improving the building’s configuration and efficiency so it can meet the needs of our students. The proposed renovations will eliminate wasted space and redesign existing space to provide more classrooms, update labs and art studios, add quiet and study spaces, establish a space for veteran students, and create a dedicated area for technology-based collective learning. 

3. Revitalizing the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center

Advances in manufacturing has affected how we use the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, the result of a 25-year partnership between GRCC and Ferris State University. While some areas of the ATC have been renovated, the Manufacturing and Information Technology areas need work to meet the current needs of students and area employers. Adding a new lab and upgrading equipment will allow us to serve more students, increasing the number earning the credentials necessary to meet the high demand for manufacturing and IT employees. Plans call for renovating 20,000 square feet while adding about 20,000 square feet.

Support for the campaign

Campaign co-chairs Dr. Jim Buzzitta, Deb Bailey and Larry Murphy asked the public to support the fundraising effort, which will continue through the end of the year.

Bailey -- noting studies showing that GRCC’s credit programs have an annual impact of nearly a half-billion dollars on the West Michigan economy, with noncredit workforce courses accounting for hundreds of millions of dollars more -- said an investment in “A Broader Vision” strengthens the entire community.. 

“GRCC is an economic driver for the region,” she said. “If we want our kids, our grandkids, and our neighbors to live in a community that is thriving, it’s critical to invest in GRCC.”

Murphy said the need for scholarship support has never been greater: “One out of every three high school grads in Kent County touches GRCC in some way, but the college also serves nontraditional students, including older students who are coming back to finish their education and change their lives. Such opportunity has a tremendous impact not only upon the student; the results can beneficially affect a family for generations.”

“We hear many stories from people in our community who owe their success to GRCC,” Buzzitta said. “Many of those people were able to attend through the generosity of people supporting scholarships -- and there can be so many more who can get an opportunity because of people stepping up and making a difference.”

To support these efforts, go to: grcc.edu/abroadervision.

Raleigh J. Finkelstein builds legacy on family, community support

"It was one of the most meaningful days of my life when I saw the 29 letters of my name on the top of Grand Rapids Community College's main academic building.

That statement carries weight when the life is as successful and public-spirited as Raleigh J. Finkelstein's.

Finkelstein was born and raised on Grand Rapids’ east side. His financial acumen helped him and his brothers grow Michigan Clothiers, the business started by their parents, into MC Sporting Goods. At its peak, MC Sporting Goods was the largest retail operation of its kind in the Midwest. Decades after selling the retail chain, he still works with his lifelong partners, his brothers Mort and Ed, in real estate and other endeavors.

His appreciation of his West Michigan roots have led him to support many community efforts, and education is one of his highest priorities. He considers GRCC a "pillar of hope and innovation."

"I didn't expect to be so completely embraced as part of the GRCC family," he said. "In giving to the college, I feel that I am the one who has received a gift."