A few years before their 30th class reunion, the Grand Rapids High School (GRHS) Class of 1985 started discussing how to honor classmates that left them too soon and the impact of their class legacy. They had valued their education at GRHS, their teachers, and had formed many lasting relationships. They wanted to find a way to honor classmates who had passed away as well as give back to the community through other GRHS students who were pursuing further education. They decided to open a scholarship fund at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, and they named it the GRHS Class of ’85 Legacy Scholarship.
Fundraising for the scholarship kicked off at their next reunion and they formed a committee of approximately seven 1985 class members. Their scholarship is unique as it is not based on GPA, it is available to traditional and non-traditional students, as long as they graduated from GRHS, and they ask the applicants the question “What type of legacy would you like to leave?”
The ’85 classmates firmly believe that every dollar makes a difference in giving someone an opportunity to further their education. Each year the committee enjoys reading the scholarship applications and putting time and effort into picking the scholarship recipient. They have given out a $1000 every year since the fund was established in 2015.
Ann Backes Merritt, committee member, says, “Marian Wright Edelman said it best with what our class is trying to do when she said, ‘Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.’” The Class of 1985 wants to leave the lives of others and the community better than they found it. Some of their passion comes from their parents and fellow classmates who were in, or still are in, education or careers where making a positive impact in one person’s life can truly make a difference.
The Class of ’85 is in the process of building their fund so that it can be endowed and therefore available forever for GRHS students. Their goal is to raise an additional $10,000. You can give as a memorial for a loved one, a one-time donation, recurring donation, stock, bonds, real estate, or through life insurance or an individual retirement account (IRA). Donations are tax-deductible.
If you are interested in helping the Class of 1985 leave a legacy, please consider donating to the GRHS Class of ’85 Legacy Scholarship. You can donate through the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation website www.gracf.org/donate and search for GRHS Class of ’85 Legacy Scholarship. You can also send or drop off donations to the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, 350 NW 1st Avenue, Suite E, Grand Rapids, Minnesota. If you have questions or want to start your own legacy fund, please call the Community Foundation at 218-999-9100 or visit the GRACF website at www.gracf.org.