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Dyer-Ives Foundation records

Identifier: JCPA-07

Scope and Contents

The collection contains the records of the Dyer-Ives Foundation, with materials dating from the organization's founding in 1960 until its closure in 2016. The records document the administration, finances, and grant making operations of the foundation – and illustrate the impact the foundation had on the City of Grand Rapids, its economy, social and cultural institutions, and local environment.

Series 1. Corporate and Financial Records contains the founding documents, bylaws and articles of incorporation, Board of Trustees information and meeting minutes, annual reports, records of the Executive Director, tax documents, financial records, insurance records, and information on professional organization memberships.

Series 2. Grant Records contains the detailed records of the grants proposed, funded, and declined by the foundation. Grants were typically made to grassroots neighborhood organizations, churches, cultural and social institutions, and other non-profit organizations in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grant files may include proposals, supporting documentation, correspondence, newspaper clippings and related printed materials, and grant reports.

Series 3. Neighborhood Initiatives contains the records of Lee Webber, Director of the Neighborhood Initiatives Program. This program provided support and training to other non-profit organizations in the area. The records pertain to these training programs, but also include assessment data from neighborhood studies and other local area research materials.

Series 4. Donor History, served as a general subject file for the organization and for John Hunting. Its files may contain correspondence, notes by Hunting, reports, newspaper clippings, and other supporting materials relating to the individuals, organizations, and topics of interest to the foundation and Hunting.

Series 5. Photographs and Scrapbooks contains two scrapbooks of photographs, newspaper clippings, and ephemera that document the history of the Dyer-Ives Foundation from 1966 to 1988, and one scrapbook about the Dedication of the Sixth Street Bridge in 1981. The series also contains a small amount of loose photographs and newspaper clippings.

Series 6. Audiovisual Materials contains a series of audio oral history recordings, created in 1971 by Gordon Olson as a project partially funded by Dyer-Ives. These recordings have been digitized as part of the Grand Rapids Oral History Project and are available online in our Digital Collections. The series also contains a small number of VHS videocassette tapes, mostly containing promotional materials related to grants funded by Dyer-Ives.


  • 1960 - 2016


Access to Materials

Collection is open for research use. Materials may be accessed by request at Special Collections and University Archives in Seidman House. Materials do not circulate.

Administrative History

The Dyer-Ives Foundation was a Grand Rapids, Michigan based private foundation, which was founded by John Hunting in 1961 and operated until 2016. Its mission was to "support grassroots community development projects which addressed issues of systemic poverty and diminished a sense of isolation among residents of the central city." The foundation, "grounded in the premise that people have the capacity to develop their own solutions to their own challenges if they are given the tools to do so," focused its funding on skill development, strategic planning, marketing, data collecting and policy making, civic engagement, economic and housing development, direct service to residents in need, cultural enrichment, and environmental improvement.

Two of its earliest programs, Kentfields and ITM "I Teach Me" Academy, targeted at-risk youth, and were eventually adopted and operated for two decades by local institutions. In 1968, the foundation established the Dyer-Ives Annual Kent County Poetry Competition. Seeking to foster excellence in writing, the contest awarded cash prizes to first, second, and third place poems in three age divisions. The contest also published the poetry journal Voices, and turned the contest over to Grand Rapids Public Library to operate in 2017.

Dyer-Ives shifted away from establishing its own programs and into public-facing grant-making in the mid-1960s. The foundation supported small, grassroots organizations which addressed the roots of social issues in Grand Rapids communities, as well as studies on improving economic prospects for minorities, improving riverbank development, improving public transportation, and revitalizing Grand Rapids' central-city neighborhoods. Through the 1970s, community development funding continued, but the foundation focused its efforts on projects responding to environmental concerns. In the 1980s Dyer-Ives joined in a collaborative effort to combat the spread of the AIDS virus, and in the 1990s it joined other local foundations to devise solutions to homelessness. The 2000s saw another shift in response to increasing home foreclosures. During this period, Dyer-Ives initiated its Neighborhood Initiatives Program, providing training sessions to area non-profit organizations in fiscal responsibility, board development, community organizing, volunteer management, fund-raising and computer skills. In order to encourage engagement, Dyer-Ives awarded financial support to neighborhood associations just for participating in the program.

In its final years, from 2010-2016, the foundation took two approaches in directing its final spend-out grants. First, it would continue to strengthen neighborhoods in Grand Rapids through the Area Specific Plan (ASP) collaboration. It would also provide tools intended to help other local organizations achieve sustainability in the absence of Dyer-Ives funding. A more detailed history of the organization can be found within the collection.

Dyer-Ives Foundation's founder, John Hunting, is the son of Steelcase Corporation co-founder David D. Hunting. Hunting was also president of the Beldon Fund, which operated from 1982-2009 as a national foundation committed to promoting sound environmental policies.


84 Linear Feet (79 boxes, 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



Organized in six series: 1) Corporate and Financial Records, 2) Grant Records, 3) Neighborhood Initiatives, 4) Donor History, 5) Photographs and Scrapbooks, and 6) Audiovisual Materials.

Series 1. Corporate and Financial Records is further organized into three subseries: Corporate Records; Financial Records, arranged chronologically; and Annual Records, arranged chronologically.

Series 2. Grant Records, is further organized into five subseries: Annual Poetry Contest, arranged chronologically; Grant Administration Files; Grants, arranged chronologically; Spend-Out Grants, arranged alphabetically; and Grants Proposed/Declined, arranged chronologically.

Series 3. Neighborhood Initiatives is arranged in original order.

Series 4. Donor History is arranged in original order.

Series 5. Photographs and Scrapbooks is organized in two subseries: Photographs, arranged alphabetically, and Scrapbooks, arranged chronologically.

Series 6. Audiovisual Materials is arranged in two subseries: Oral History Audio Tapes and Video Tapes. Audio Tapes are arranged alphabetically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was donated by the Dyer-Ives Foundation to Special Collections & University Archives in 2016 through its partnership with the Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

Related Materials

Beldon Fund records, Ruth Lilly Special Collections & Archives, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Grand Rapids Oral History Collection (RHC-23)

Dyer-Ives Foundation records, JCPA-07
In Progress
Annie Benefiel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Grand Valley State University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Seidman House
1 Campus Drive
Allendale MI 49401 United States