A Year of Transition & Looking Forward

A Message from President Holly Johnson

“As a place-based foundation, we show up each day ready to hear from the community.”

The past year has shown us, more than ever, that our communities are alive, resilient and ever changing. While our community has grown with opportunities, we continue to feel the systemic inequities that unjustly harm different groups. While we have deep work to do, I am overwhelmingly inspired by the good that permeates and radiates from our community every day.

We know that emerging from the pandemic has not been easy for anyone. We have challenged ourselves to be curious about our future, not hoping to return to the past but instead recommitting to being a better listener and learner and continuing to tackle issues that have challenged our communities for far too long.

We believe that advocating for better outcomes starts with listening to those most affected by our funding decisions. The needs of our communities are complex; but innovative, future-focused solutions will have a positive impact throughout our regions for years to come. In Northern Michigan, the lack of and children. Local stakeholders have come together to confront this challenge head on as you will see in this year’s video highlighting North Central Michigan College’s childcare initiative. Access to affordable childcare has led to shortages in the workforce and has negatively affected families.

Backbone organizations like KConnect, Housing Kent, and Housing North that focus on changing broken systems and addressing root causes are needed to disrupt and make progress in the areas where our communities are stuck. To learn more about the work we are supporting around housing in Kent County, I invite you to watch the documentary, Finding Home, produced by KConnect and Housing Kent.

The Frey Foundation remains in the midst of a generational transition, and we have experienced the significant loss of Frey Foundation family leaders over the past couple of years. While this report is focused on our work in 2022, I must take a moment to honor the life of David G. Frey, who passed away on June 12, 2023. David’s legacy lives strong, and he is deeply missed. Please click here to read the foundation’s statement and David’s obituary.

Our trustees remain committed to listening, learning, collaborating, and practicing openness as they govern this organization. I could not be prouder to link arms with them as they continue the Frey family legacy of leading a foundation that prioritizes the needs of our communities, empowers new ideas, and partners with organizations to create positive change.

As a place-based foundation, we show up each day ready to hear from the community. That’s where our work is most important, on the ground, learning new perspectives and using those learnings to drive impact in the communities we support. We must be humble enough to say that solving the problems of today needs to be different from how we have operated in the past. We have new tools like impact investing, and new lenses to explore like trust-based philanthropy. And while we embrace new tools and vocabulary, what remains constant in our work is building trusted, transparent relationships with our community partners.

We are honored to do this work. Thank you for viewing our annual report and for your continued partnership.