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Foundation Watch: How the Jandernoa Foundation functions within the rest of the GR Power Structure strategy

September 29, 2019

Michael Jandernoa is one of the lesser-known members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure. Jandernoa is the former president of Perrigo. In recent years, Jandernoa has been involved with 42 North Partners, which he created with his wife Sue. In addition, Jandernoa serves as General Partner at Bridge Street Capital Fund I, L.P, where he sits on the Executive Committee with John Kennedy.  He is the Co- Founder of Grand Angels, LLC., which is another investment capital entity in Grand Rapids.

In addition, Jandernoa has used his wealth to influence state politics. According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Jandernoa gave $437,500 in the 2015 – 2016 election cycle (the 9th most in the state) to the Republican Party and he contributed $795,000 in the 2017 – 2018 election cycle, most notably to candidates from the Greater Grand Rapids area, like State Senator Peter MacGregor.

Jandernoa also sits on the boards of numerous groups that are part of the Grand Rapids Power Structure, like the West Michigan Policy Forum, Talent 2025, Business Leaders for Michigan and The Education Trust, which is an organization that promotes Charter Schools. 

Now that we can see the ways in which Jandernoa works to influence economic policy and the political process in Michigan, let’s look at how his foundation compliments these efforts.

The following data is for 2015 – 2017, based on the 990 documents we obtained from Guidestar, for the Michael and Susan Jandernoa Foundation. This foundation has just over $16 million in assets, according to Guidestar.

Like all members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure, the Jandernoa Foundation does two main things. First, this foundation funds the kinds of things that align with Jandernoa’s ideology, and second, his foundation provides funding to non-profits that offer charity-based solutions for people experiencing poverty. As we have noted in previous Foundation Watch posts, members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure are influencing economic policy at the state level that creates poverty conditions for thousands in West Michigan, but their foundations only provide charity-based solutions that do not address root causes of economic disparities.

The ideologically driven funding that the Jandernoa Foundation provides goes to the following entities:

  • Catholic Central                               $2,300,000
  • Junior Achievement                         $1,125,000
  • Mackinac Center for Public Policy $450,000
  • Calvin Theological Seminar            $400,000
  • GVSU                                                $300,000
  • Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation $109,500
  • Grand Action                                    $100,000
  • Start Garden Foundation                 $45,000
  • Great Lakes Education Foundation $25,000

All of the above entires either are designed to either; 1) influence educational outcomes – Catholic Central, Calvin Theological Seminary, GVSU and the Grand Rapids Students Advancement Foundation; 2) Pro-capitalist practices – Junior Achievement, Grand Action and Start Garden Foundation, or 3) public policy outcomes – Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Great Lakes Education Foundation.

In the category of charity-based funding, here are some of the organizations that the Jandernoa Foundation supports:

  • Heart of West Michigan United Way $750,000
  • Special Olympics Inc.                          $175,000
  • Kids Food Basket                                 $100,000
  • Mel Trotter Ministries                          $75,000

To be clear, we are not saying that these organizations don’t serve specific needs, but we are also saying that these organizations do not work to end root causes of problems, rather they use charity-based solutions.

As one can see, the Jandernoa Foundation fully complements the more overt political and economic ways that Michael Jandernoa uses his money to influence public policy. In addition, by contributing to groups like Mel Trotter Ministries and Kids Food Basket, the Jandernoa Foundation can count on these same organizations to not challenge or resist the ways in which Jandernoa influences public policy, which ultimately leads to the creation of poverty and hunger.

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