How 5 CFHZ grants will help enhance the Holland/Zeeland communities

With its competitive grants, the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) directly invests in projects and strategies that support, improve, and enhance the community. 

Competitive grants are funded through the Community’s Endowment, which is a philanthropic resource that will always be available to meet community needs, now and in the future.

A total of two rounds of competitive grant awards in 2021 were designed to address a broad range of issue areas, including arts and culture, community and economic development, environment, education, health, human services, housing, seniors, and youth. CFHZ gives priority to proposals that are core to its mission, will have a lasting impact, or represent a pivot point for the organization.

“We had a number of compelling grant proposals for this round of our competitive grant awards,” says Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys, director of Community Impact at CFHZ. “Our distribution committee was inspired by the continuing strength, creativity, and commitment of our local nonprofit sector to a fully thriving community for all members of the Holland/Zeeland area.” 

This round of competitive grants, totaling $98,377, was awarded to five organizations. Here’s how the money will be spent and how the grants will benefit the community.

ODC Network
$25,000 for Dragonflies Discovery Preschool. This grant will assist in constructing the new Dragonflies Discovery Preschool, which will be located on 11 acres in the northeast corner of the land vacated by the Park Township Airport. The new site will have the capacity to serve 194 students using a nature-based learning model. 
Why this matters: Child care and preschool are pressing needs in our community. They provide critical early education experiences to prepare children for kindergarten, are a major expense in household budgets, and are a significant factor in parents’ ability to participate in the workforce. The new preschool will have a lasting positive impact on hundreds of children, who will have the opportunity to experience nature-based education and its immediate and long-term academic, health, and social benefits.  
“This is an inflection point for our organization. We are choosing to lean in during an uncertain time and provide critical child care capacity that expands equitable access to early childhood education,” says Dave Nyitray, president and chief operating officer of ODC Network.

Dragonflies Discovery Preschool will provide children with incredible nature-based learning experiences, enhancing creativity, brain development, collaboration, and positive health outcomes, all while helping to support families navigating the challenges of child care, Nyitray says. 

“We are grateful for the foundation's support that both helps us meet a community need, but also lets us live into our mission of advancing outdoor education,” he says. 
Reach for Recovery (formerly known as OAR)
$25,000 for Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. This grant will support the launch of a new program — Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder — that will help save lives by preventing opioid overdose deaths in West Michigan. Reach for Recovery is the only local comprehensive substance abuse treatment program with both inpatient and outpatient options that accepts Medicaid and Medicare, and offers a sliding scale to ensure treatment is available to all, regardless of financial resources.

Why this matters: Opioid addiction is particularly dangerous and deadly for individuals who suffer from it and often causes significant harm to their families as well. Having local access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment will have a life-changing and potentially life-saving impact for these community members. 
City on a Hill Ministries
$20,000 for the Burning Bright campaign. This grant helps fund the replacement of a failing, outdated steam heat system that currently serves 70% of City on a Hill’s building. City on a Hill provides affordable, collaborative space for 35 ministries and nonprofits, allowing these organizations to focus more of their resources on their respective missions. 
Why this matters: City on a Hill offers one of our community’s most successful examples of nonprofits co-locating to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their work. The building improvements will ensure the long-term viability of the space for the 35 organizations that currently operate from City on a Hill, as well as future tenants. 
Escape Ministries
$17,500 for the Deeper & Wider campaign. This grant helps fund a variety of improvements to the Escape Ministries’ building, including a reconfigured entryway, extended security system, water bottle filling stations, and flexible and functional student furniture. These updates will help set up Escape for its next era of impact, making our community’s most vulnerable students and their families feel uplifted, welcomed, valued, and empowered. 
Why this matters: Escape is focused on serving students who have been suspended or expelled from school, have been involved in gangs, and/or have been involved in the juvenile court system. Of the students Escape serves, 80% live in poverty and 75% are students of color. Investing in these improvements to Escape’s space will have a lasting impact on the quality of experience that the organization provides to the students they serve.  

Park Theatre

$10,877 to improve accessibility and increase capacity.
This grant helps Park Theatre complete building improvements and repairs that align with its mission to create a radically open, fiscally sustainable, multi‐use platform for Holland community members to create and celebrate culture.  
Why this matters: Park Theatre serves as a unique, centrally located space for a wide mix of performance artists and community events. Improved accessibility and increased capacity will have a lasting impact on how the Park Theatre serves the community. 

More information about the foundation’s grants can be found at

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.