Foundation Profile: Secchia Family Foundation
This foundation profile is part of a series of profiles on local foundations and is part of our Grand Rapids Non-Profit Industrial Complex Project.
The Secchia Family Foundation is the foundation of Peter Secchia and his wife. Seechia is part of the West Michigan power elite, a major playing in the Republican Party, who is involved in numerous groups such as the West Michigan Policy Forum, which has been a champion of the anti-worker austerity measures implemented by Governor Snyder.
Most of the money that the Secchia Family Foundation has contributed during the years of 2009 – 2011 has been to Michigan organizations. Some of the larger recipients are the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Michigan State University, the Van Andel Institute and Grand Valley State University.
The list of larger recipients is no surprise, since Secchia is an alumni of MSU, has a close relationship to the DeVos family and he and his wife site on the Board of Directors of the Van Andel Instiute.
Some other recipients of Secchia Family Foundation money that clearly fit into the political philosophy of the former Ambassador to Italy during the Reagan administration are: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy ($18,500) and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Foundation ($10,000). Both of these entities promote business interests above all else and actively work to weaken government regulations and worker rights.
However, there are some recipients of Secchia Foundation money that might raise some eyebrows. The Secchia Family Foundation has contributed some money to the Grand Rapids Chapter of the NAACP and the Grand Rapids Urban League, both less than one thousands dollars between 2009 – 2011.
Other surprising recipients have been Senior Neighbors ($2,500), Friend of Grand Rapids Parks ($7,000), Kids Food Basket ($2,000), Baxter Community Center ($2,000) and Steepletown Neighborhood Services ($1,000).
I say surprising, since the organizations listed do focus on some social justice work and environmental sustainability, although in a limited fashion. It does raise questions about the motives of the Secchia Family Foundation to donate money to organizations that are dealing with the fallout of economic policies that Secchia has endorsed and financed in electoral politics and through his participation in groups like the Chamber of Commerce, West Michigan Policy Forum and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Such funding also raises questions about how this money impacts the recipients of the Secchia Family Foundation and their willingness to challenge public policy and private power in West Michigan. These are questions we hope to answer in the next phase of this project, which will involve interviewing representatives from the various Non-Profit organizations in the area.