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West Michigan Foundation Watch: The Peter & Joan Secchia Family Foundation’s deceptive charity

April 28, 2021

When Peter Secchia, a member of the Grand Rapids Power Structure, died last fall, we wrote a story that was completely counter to what the dominant commercial news agencies reported.

We pointed out that Secchia used his wealth and his role in the Republican Party to engage in a great deal of harm – harm against workers, harm against women, harm against immigrants, harm agains Black people and harm against the LGBTQ community. 

We also pointed out that Secchia was an early supporter of Donald Trump in his bid to win the presidency in 2016. In fact, Secchia pressured other high profiled Republicans in the country and in West Michigan to get behind the candidacy of Donald Trump.

It is in this context that we write about the Peter & Joan Secchia Family Foundation. 

Compared to the DeVos Foundation the Secchia Foundation is smaller, with $11 million in assets. The Secchia Foundation also doesn’t fund the far right in the same way as the DeVos and Prince families do, although they do contribute annually to groups like the American Enterprise Institute and the Manhattan Institute

Their larger foundation contributions mostly go to higher ed, like Michigan State University, Davenport, GVSU, or entities like the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and the Grand Rapids Community Legends project, which put in most of the statues in the downtown area in recent years. 

Then there are the numerous small Secchia Foundation contributions that go to little projects like Mel Trotter Ministries, the Community Food Club, Blandford Nature Center and First Steps. The benefit in giving to these local non-profit endeavors is that its great PR for the Secchia Foundation. It also means that these non-profits will not be critical of the larger funding impact of the Secchia family, particularly their political funding of the Republican Party. 

We can’t afford to be fooled by the so-called charity work that the Secchia Foundation contributes to, when the political work they fund supports public policy that creates the types of inequality that often result in people having to utilize the services of places like Mel Trotter or the Community Food Club, which is for Heartside residents. We have to resist the temptation to give local foundations are free pass, and instead see the larger picture about how wealth is used to manipulate, control and pacify people in this community. 

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