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Foundation Profile: The Van Andel Family Foundations

March 6, 2013

This foundation profile is part of an ongoing series looking at both foundations and non-profits in West Michigan. The project is called the Grand Rapids Non-Profit Industrial Complex Project.

Today we are featuring several foundations based in the Van Andel Family.

Like the other Amway family (DeVos), the Van Andel’s have several family foundations with a significant amount of money. Unlike the DeVos Family foundations, the Van Andel’s have’t contributed as much money in recent years to organizations that are as overtly political or part of the religious right.images

We have combined the data from the three most recent years of 990s for the Steve & Cindy Van Andel Family Foundation, the David & Carol Van Andel Foundation and the Van Andel Fund Inc.

The Van Andel Fund Inc. only contributed to two different entities between 2009 and 2011, the Public Museum of Grand Rapids ($28,342,500) and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation ($2 million). These are sizeable amounts in both cases and it is worth noting that Carol Van Andel sits on the Board of Directors at the Public Museum of Grand Rapids.

The Steve & Cindy Van Andel Foundation has also kept most of its contributions from the foundation local. However, there are a few exceptions that are important to note since they are part of the religious right and ultra conservatism in America.

The Steve & Cindy Van Andel Foundation contributed $30,000 to the Heritage Foundation between 2009 and 2011, a small donation to the Acton Institute ($2,500) and $2,520,000 to Hillsdale College.

Hillsdale College is one of the most conservative colleges in the country, which actively recruits those who embrace and promote what is referred to as Theocratic Dominionism. Theocratic Dominionism is a brand of Christian Right Theology that believes that the US Constitution should be replaced by the Ten Commandments and other Judeo-Christian Laws.


Hillsdale College has also had numerous Presidents with close relations with the far right. For instance, former Hillsdale President George Roche III, was a member of the World Anti-Communist League, an organization that has historical links to Nazis and Latin American Death Squads.

The Steve & Cindy Van Andel Foundation also contributed $10,000 to the ultra-right publication, The American Spectator.

The David & Carol Van Andel Foundation have also kept their contributions close to home and have funded numerous charity and social service agencies in West Michigan. They have contributed some money to far right and religious right groups such as the Acton Institute ($30,000), Prison Fellowship Ministries ($25,000) and the Dove Foundation ($25,000).

The Dove Foundation is a Conservative Christian Media Advocacy group that grades media, mostly movies, through a far right Christian lens. Their founder and President, Dick Rolfe, is a big proponent of censorship, as is fellow Dove Foundation board member Dar Vander Ark. Vander Ark is the head of the Michigan Decency Action Council, which also tries to limit and censor material they consider to be immoral.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jay permalink
    March 6, 2013 1:49 pm

    A few years back the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation closed up shop, which regularly gave money to lots of conservative groups. They dispersed the money to the rest of the family foundations.

    Never forget though that for years a pet cause of that foundation was funding groups that promoted creationism. These groups aim to use science to “prove” the timetables laid out in the bible.

    Like a lot the stuff with the Van Andels and even the DeVoses things are changing between generations, but it’s still interesting.

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