GHACF awards over $660K in scholarships to 220 students

The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation (GHACF) is helping more than 220 students attend college with over $660,000 in scholarships.

One of those students is Jarel Juarez, a Grand Haven High School graduate and recipient of the Roy and Joyce Overway Family Scholarship and Kenneth and Janis Formsma ESL Scholarship.

Juarez will be attending Ferris State University.

“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity,” says Juarez, adding that receiving the scholarship “has significantly lightened the financial burden of my college education.”

The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation (GHACF) recently awarded more than $660,000 to 220 area students.

Continuing to impact students

Ken and Jan Formsma created their scholarship fund in 2015. 

"My wife, Jan, worked at Grand Haven Area Public Schools as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher,” Ken Formsma says. “We established the scholarship after some health issues that would prevent her from returning to the classroom. This fund is our way of continuing to impact the ESL students." 

The scholarship has a special connection to Juarez’s family. His mom, Flor, was once a student of Jan Formsma.

“It's inspirational to see your continued support of our family more than 20 years later,” Juarez wrote in a note to Ken Formsma. “I strive to give back to my community as you have. Your contribution will have a lasting impact on my life, and I am committed to making the most of this opportunity. I am truly grateful to have you as a partner in my educational journey.”

130 scholarship funds

The GHACF, Allendale Community Foundation, and Coopersville Area Community Foundation hold over 130 scholarship funds with varying criteria, such as financial need, academic achievements, and field of study. 

Another factor the scholarship committee considers is if a student would be among the first in their family in their generation to continue their education after high school, and 33 first-generation students are receiving awards this year. 

The GHACF held an ice cream social in July to celebrate the scholarship recipients and their families, as well as recognize the donors who established scholarship funds.  

The 2024 scholarship application opens in early December 2023. For more information, visit  

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.