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West MI Foundation Watch: Peter & Joan Secchia Foundation – contributions to fit their political agenda

May 10, 2022

Even though Peter Secchia, a member of the Grand Rapids Power Structure, died in 2020, his foundation continues to promote the myth that rich white guys really want to make a difference in the world.

For more than 5 decades, Peter Secchia contributed money to the Republican Party, which means that he funded the hateful rhetoric and the harmful policies of the Republican Party, from Ronald Reagan all the way through the neo-fascist Trump Administration. 

The Secchia Foundation was created, like all foundations of the Capitalist Class, as a way hide some of their money from being taxed and to generate a positive PR buzz about how generous they are with the money they made off the backs of the workers they exploited.

GRIID just downloaded the 990 documents for the Secchia Foundation for 2020, which is the most recent year to access from GuideStar. 

The Peter and Joan Secchia Foundation, like most foundations started by members of the Capitalist Class, contributes some of their money to charitable organizations, organizations which do not challenge structural inequalities nor the families that the foundations are named after. Some of the local charitable organizations that the Secchia Foundation contributed to are:

  • Baxter Community Center
  • Steepletown Neighborhood Services
  • YMCA of Grand Rapids

Secchia was also a member of the Catholic Church, so there are also several contributions to Catholic organizations, like St. Thomas Church and the St. Andrews Cathedral.

Then there are the education institutions that Secchia has contributed to, in the case much larger contributions than the charity groups, such as:

  • Davenport University Foundation – $50,000
  • GR Community College Foundation – $84,333
  • GVSU – $12,500
  • West Michigan Aviation Academy (Dick DeVos) – $5,000

Lastly, there are organizations that have an Capitalist Agenda, that the Secchia Foundation has contributed to, such as:

  • Downtown Market Ed Fund – $11,000
  • Experience Grand Rapids – $12,030
  • Grand Rapids Community Legends – $117,392
  • Russell Kirk Center – $25,000

The Grand Rapids Community Legends is particularly problematic, as they are the one responsible for most of the statues that have been erected in downtown Grand Rapids, centering around “great leaders,” most of whom are white. The Grand Rapids People’s History Project has written about many of them, including:

As we mentioned in the beginning of this post, the Secchia family has contributed a great deal more money to the Republican Party, but that reality tends to be less of any interesting story to the local news media. The foundation contributions are often what solidify the legacy of Capitalists like Peter Secchia, thus hiding how they made their wealth and how they used it to further their own agenda.

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