Make the impossible possible.

We can help you identify creative funding opportunities to leverage public and private dollars.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Gerald R. Ford International Airport

$45 million capital project; $20 million from corporate sponsorships and philanthropy

Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRFIA) is the “Gateway to West Michigan.” The region’s one and a half million people depend on quality air service to fuel thriving business and leisure economies. But the progress and potential future growth of the region was hampered by an outdated and inefficient airport terminal space that did not properly reflect West Michigan as a vibrant place to live and work. Airport management needed find a way to fund a $45 million terminal renovation.

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This project began in 2014, as the airport sought to find a new funding solution to fuel growth. Funding for an airport typically comes through government bonds. However, issuing a bond at this point would have burdened the carriers and made Grand Rapids a less attractive market. The region could not afford to lose the low-cost carriers they had worked so hard to cultivate.

We helped them:

  • Envision a public/private partnership, in which one-third of the funding would come from airport operating funds, and the remaining two-thirds would come from a mix of corporate marketing investments and community gifts
  • Conduct a feasibility study to gauge reaction to this idea and identify potential corporate partners
  • Approach corporate partners with the opportunity to invest in “philanthropic marketing”
  • Develop a unique sponsorship package, tailored to the corporate objectives of each potential sponsor company
  • Target foundations that could make community-based investments in the airport

This project has progressed rapidly, and funds are being raised at lightening speed. We anticipate the airport will fully fund its project by mid-2017.

“Kennari Consulting has been an instrumental partner on the Gateway Transformation Campaign for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Funding for the project was a combination public/private partnership and required excellent campaign advisory, strategy and project management services as well as excellent community relations, which Kennari Consulting delivered in an outstanding way. Their efforts helped make this project an enormous success!”

Curt Pullen
Campaign Co-Chair

Grand Rapids Whitewater

Heart of the City Health Center

$29.2 million project; $4.1 million in philanthropy

Cherry Health provides primary health care services to nearly 70,000 patients in Kent County and surrounding communities annually. They are the largest federally qualified health center in Michigan. Cherry Health wanted an integrated system of health care delivery that would increase access to care, increase patient capacity and improve patient outcomes. They sought to do this by creating an integrated care environment for patients in a single building right in the heart of Grand Rapids.

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Although Cherry Health could make a substantial contribution to the project through operating funds and a loan, they did not have the financial capacity to fund the entire project. Then a unique funding opportunity came their way. Cherry Health was able to leverage federal grant dollars to local philanthropic support at a rate of 3:1. The catch was that they had a very short time in which to raise the money. We helped them:

  • Write a case for support
  • Conduct a feasibility study
  • Identify candidates for lead gifts
  • Recruit and train a campaign cabinet
  • Implement a plan to raise the money in the required time

Cherry Health was able to leverage $17.1 million in government grants on this project, thanks to their success in local fundraising. That eased the burden on local donors, dramatically increased access to healthcare, and created more than 100 new healthcare jobs.

Grand Rapids Public Schools

Grand Rapids Public Schools

$7 million endowment portion of campaign; Ongoing planned gift cultivation

As part of Grand Rapids Public Schools’ (GRPS) Transformation Plan, the District placed an emphasis on instituting more innovative school models as “Centers of Innovation.”  This involved creating intense collaborations with community organizations. It also involved advance work with city master planning and development agencies to ensure schools were placed in areas of forecasted need. A combination of bond issue and private philanthropy was needed to raise almost $200 million for this phase.

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GRPS engaged Kennari Consulting to strengthen alliances as they moved into the fundraising phase of the transformation plan.  We provided pre-campaign planning services to help develop funder support.  We also helped position GRPS within the network of partners working on complementary projects.

One of the exciting schools under consideration as part of this plan was a Museum School.  This school was to be a partnership among GRPS, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, the Grand Valley State University College of Education, and the City of Grand Rapids/Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.  These partners began an intensive planning process in 2013 which culminated in the opening of the Museum Middle School in Fall of 2015.  Plans immediately shifted to opening the Museum High School by Fall of 2018.  In 2015, the team became aware of the XQ Super School Challenge.

The XQ Institute challenged communities to develop innovative high school models that will shape the future of education nation-wide.  Kennari Consulting was asked to lead the development of the XQ proposal.  As a result of the work of a lot of stakeholders, GRPS was awarded $10 million to implement the Museum High School.  Kennari Consulting’s role in the XQ process involved the following:

  • Holding focus groups with partner organizations, community stakeholders, students, and parents to discover various needs for high school education in our community
  • Facilitating multiple design sessions to better define the Museum High School model
  • Preparing multiple rounds of proposals to XQ
  • Coordinating communication between GRPS and XQ
  • Assisting with public announcements pertaining to the XQ award

"Sandi and her team have helped us realize that fundraising is an achievable skill. It's not just based on personality, or who you know. We have developed confidence in what we can do because the basic building blocks have been put in place."

Jack Greenfield
CEO & President,
Arbor Circle


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