EGR’s School Foundation helps students in every way it can

High-quality education is at the forefront of what the staff and students strive to achieve here at East Grand Rapids High School. EGR is known as being one of the top public schools in not only the state of Michigan but also throughout the country. 

Becoming such an impressive school comes with a lot of costs, especially when one factors in co-curriculars, clubs, scholarships, etcetera. Luckily for the staff and students at East, the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation helps them achieve their goals inside and outside of the classroom through grants. The EGRSF has a broad mission of helping the people at East. 

“The East Grand Rapid Schools Foundation’s mission is to enhance teaching and learning and support their whole child. We do that through grants, awards, and scholarships to our teachers and staff,” Amy Stuursma, the Executive Director of the foundation explained. 

The foundation has funded many different people at East recently, including popular groups and classes that are very familiar to students. 

“The foundation has been involved in several programs that have continued their pilots from several years ago, and we continue to fund some of those pilots, which are now programs in your school, like Gone Boarding, IB, and some of the initial equipment for the Primetime Pioneers,” Stuursma said. 

The most recent funding from the foundation went to the science department at the high school. 

“And most recently a whole overhaul in the science department for data collection devices for every single area of the science department,” Stuursma said. 

The funding helps to enhance the learning experience as well as the teaching experience in this case, further advancing the educational experience at EGR. But, the foundation also funds district-wide programs. 

“We try to fund programs that appeal to a really wide range of students. One of the things that we’re always trying to do is provide opportunities, and for students to find something that they really care about and are passionate about,” Jay Forstner, the Communications Director of the foundation said. “Our most recent thing has been our mental health fund. The Mental Health and Wellness fund has supported the district-wide wellness coordinators and student mental health resources.” 

Students that do co-curriculars, sometimes with teachers, can also receive funding from the foundation. 

“We also do a lot of funding for co-curriculars, like robotics club, underwriting of the play productions, as well as a whole new drumline set,” Stuursma said. 

Students will experience the benefits of the foundation grants throughout their time at East, from their first day of elementary school to graduation. 

“So we’re really trying to make sure we’re hitting every student K through 12. And in the time that a student goes through the kindergarten to graduation experience, over $6 million will be put towards their education,” Stuursma said. 

The foundation issues two cycles of grants during each school year, one in the fall and one in the spring. 

“In the fall for high school, we funded support for the band, we were involved in the fall play, and hired a fight choreographer for the fall play. We also helped fund the music trip to Disney World and Universal around Thanksgiving,” Forstner said. “And then we’re about to have another round of grants that teachers and students have applied for. Our board will consider those in March.”

To apply for a grant, the applicant has to go through the Foundation’s process. 

“We have an application form that’s available online, right on our website,, that students or teachers can go to,” Forstner said. 

The foundation is also willing to lend a hand before the potential grant discussions start. Forstner explained that if students or teachers have an idea or even just a seed of what they would like to do, they can contact the foundation and they will help them complete the application. 

“We want people to come up with great ideas. And most of the time, if they come up with a great idea, we can figure out a way to make it happen,” Forstner said.

The foundation also helps students when they leave for college. Each May, the foundation administers seven scholarships to seniors that they can either apply for or be nominated for. In addition, the foundation gives awards to teachers for teacher excellence. These awards and scholarships add up to over $17,000 each year. 

The foundation could not do what it does without support from the East Grand Rapids community. 

“We have one annual fundraiser each year which is Hurrah! coming up on April 22nd. It is a very fun, outdoor, adult cocktail party with band music at Wege Plaza,” Stuursma said. “In addition, throughout the year, we have lots of support from our community members and alumni near and far.”