The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Creative Philanthropy that Transforms Communities

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1 The Northwood University Idea Magazine 12/04 The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Creative Philanthropy that Transforms Communities By, Laurie S. Moison It ought to be easy to record how much a foundation assists a university by merely totaling up the dollar amount given; but, in the case of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, it is literally impossible to know how much they ve given to Northwood University. That s because the Foundation has assisted Northwood in ways that go well beyond the dollar Our relationship with the Dow Foundation has been transforming. They have been as important to the development of our personality as an institution as have our founders. Dr. David Fry Northwood President amount of the generous checks they have written to fund various projects. Not only has the HHGADF made residential housing available, funded health programming and sponsored many small and large projects, through their innovative chairs, Herb Dow, Ted Doan and Ranny Riecker, the HHGADF has multiplied the effects of their donations by encouraging entrepreneurship efforts both in Northwood s classrooms and in the University s institutional personality. Our relationship with the Dow Foundation has been transforming. It is not overstatement to say they have been as important to the development of our personality as an institution as have our founders, said Northwood President Dr. David Fry. Their leadership has provided us with inspiration which is as valuable as the dollars, lots of dollars which they ve directed to projects. To add up the dollars is easy---just less than $10 million. To calculate the effect is not, because the effect surely could not have been duplicated without many times those dollars, and even then it would be impossible because the structural arrangements they have allowed and encouraged would have been impossible at any price without them. Few universities enjoy such a partnership. Creative Philanthropy Stretches Dollars Over the years, the HHGADF has used ingenious giving strategies that have enabled the college enjoy a benefit far beyond the actual dollar amount of the Foundation s gifts. Donors since the 1960 s, the HHGADF began the growth of Northwood University s $55 million endowment with a multi-year pledge of $5 million in the late 1970s. The HHGADF has also entered into lease Dow Commons Cafeteria Northwood University

2 The Dow Foundation Creative Philanthropy That Transforms -2- arrangements with the university, whereby for a nominal amount the college leases buildings owned by the Foundation. These innovative lease arrangements have allowed Northwood University College, which serves over 4,000 students through 43 centers nationwide, and through the web, to be housed in a structure leased from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation for a mere $1 per year. To create such a facility from scratch, would have required the university to invest several Dow Foundation Entrance million dollars. Instead, thanks to the creative thinking of the HHGADF, Northwood has had the use of multi-million dollar facilities for less than $1 million of leasehold improvements. The HHGADF also funded a new main entrance to the campus. The road for this entrance had to go through Foundation land adjacent to Northwood. Again, creative thinking was part of the Foundation s philanthropic approach. They not only granted a right-of-way for the road, they also paid for the majority of the road. It probably cost them perhaps $1million direct---we don t know the actual amount- --but the transformational value to us is easily ten times that, said Dr. Fry. Northwood s Entrepreneurial Spirit Attracts Foundation Support According to Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Secretary Mike Whiting, Northwood University s approach to education makes the college an ideal candidate for the types of endeavors the Foundation funds. We try to be true to the original donor s philosophy. Herbert Dow was very much an entrepreneur and Northwood is very much a school for the entrepreneur. It has a philosophy of free enterprise and educates the entrepreneur in how to be successful, so it s a nice fit, said Whiting. We also like their openness to new ideas and the way they run the college like a business. Northwood University was the first and is the only private University in the HHGADF s hometown of Midland, Michigan. When Northwood started 40 years ago, there were not that many educational institutions in our area. We were very excited to have a college that not only offered an associate s degree but was also business oriented. It was very exciting to have someone who was teaching free enterprise as an idea, because The Dow Chemical Company was dependent on the whole idea of free enterprise and entrepreneurship, recalls Foundation President Ranny Reicker. Herbert H. Dow

3 The Dow Foundation Creative Philanthropy That Transforms -3- Dow Inspires Others to Give Back The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation was established by Mrs. Grace A. Dow in 1936 in memory of her husband, Dr. Herbert H. Dow, the founder of The Dow Chemical Company. 1 Herbert Dow is credited with 107 inventions and in 1930 received the prestigious Every year, each of the 100 churches in Midland, Michigan receives a check of $1,000 from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, no strings attached. Perkin Medal for Chemical Achievement from the Society of Chemical Industry. 2 Inventor of a revolutionary process for removing bromine from brine by electrolysis, Dow came to Midland in 1890 because of its rich underground source of brine. In 1897, Dow established The Dow Chemical Company to produce chlorine bleach based on this new technology. 3 Through hard work, perseverance and innovative hiring practices, Dow grew his company into a global business. The Dows believed in giving back. Throughout their lives, they practiced private philanthropy and Dow mentored his executives at Dow to develop the practice as well. Herbert Dow set the example for the other top executives. As a result you have foundations in Midland---quite remarkable for a city of 40,000, said Ned Brandt, former Director of Public Relations for Dow. One of the executives who followed Dow s lead by starting his own foundation was Rollin M. Gerstacker. Today, as Vice President of the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, Brandt continues to practice the spirit of philanthropy he and Gerstacker learned from Dow. Dow mentored his children in philanthropy as well. The first trustees of the HHGADF were members of Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow s immediate family. Today, the Foundation has two non-family trustees, all the rest are either grandchildren or greatgrandchildren. Granddaughter Ranny Reicker recalls stories her mothertold about how she was expected to give to the collection plate in church out of her allowance. Grace A. Dow, Ranny s grandmother also modeled philanthropy for her. Every year, Grace Dow gave every church in Midland an annual donation. Written in varying amounts after careful thought about what the needs of that particular church might be, the checks were sent with no strings attached to every church, regardless of denomination or religious affiliation. Today, the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation continues Grace Dow s charming tradition by sending all 100 churches in Midland annual checks for $1,000. A Legacy of Facilitating an Extraordinary Quality of Life for Others The fifth largest foundation in Michigan, in its 68 years the HHGADF has given away more than $350 million to organizations within Michigan for projects that have improved the educational, religious, economic and cultural lives of Michigan s people. Projects that benefit youngsters or senior citizens are of special interest. The Foundation actively seeks opportunities where a grant of seed money or a matching grant will 1 The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Annual Report. 2 This sentence quoted from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Annual Report. 3 This sentence quoted from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Annual Report.

4 The Dow Foundation Creative Philanthropy That Transforms -4- stimulate broad public participation in an artistic, recreational, educational or cultural project so that the project can become self-sustaining. 4 According to HHGADF Chairman Ted Doan, grants to fund institutions of higher learning make up about one-third of the Foundation s annual outlay. Another third goes to counties adjacent to Midland. The final third goes to improve the quality of life in Midland where the Foundation has, among other things, helped to build a center for the performing arts, a community center, swimming pools, baseball stadiums, a soccer club, an indoor tennis facility, senior housing, a golf course, and a library. Substantial sums have also been contributed to Midland area schools for projects ranging from improvements to their physical plants to the purchase of special science kits as well as programs to develop character and combat substance abuse. Recently, the Foundation underwrote a program set up by the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Saginaw Sheriff s Department to help area young people avoid Internet predators. Conservancy projects are particularly important to the Foundation, said Doan. The Foundation has invested in the Little Forks Conservancy to preserve the land along Midland County s three rivers. They also have joined with other area businesses, individuals and organizations to support the (WIN). WIN s goal is to promote growth and development that serves both man and nature in the entire 22 county central Michigan Watershed area. 5 The Foundation also owns and operates the Dow Gardens. The Gardens offer an annual Butterflies in Bloom event, much to the delight of children of all ages. Started in 1899 by Herbert Dow, The Gardens, originally developed on eight acres of flat, sandy land, provided a creative outlet for Dow s interest in agriculture and design. He created gardens, ponds, and hills The Dow Gardens according to a simple philosophy still followed to this day: never reveal the The Dow Gardens gardens whole beauty at first glance. Alden B. Dow, Herbert s youngest son and an experienced architect, continued his father's work on the Gardens. The family connection continued with the involvement of Herbert Dow s grandson, Herbert Dow. Today, The Gardens have grown to 110 acres, 6 including their most recent addition, the Whiting Forest. 4 Last two sentences quoted from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Annual Report. 5 These two sentences from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation Annual Report, p This paragraph quoted from

5 The Dow Foundation Creative Philanthropy That Transforms -5- Alden B. Dow Studio. Alden was a world-renowned architect and student of Frank Lloyd Wright In reflecting on the impact the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, Midland City Manager Karl Tomion said, We were very fortunate that the original Mr. Dow came our community. He brought two things with him. First, an economic dynamo---the Dow Chemical Company has been a tremendous benefit to the whole area. The second thing Dow brought, said Tomion, was the spirit of philanthropy, which he passed down to his family members and to the executives of his company. The whole state has benefited, Midland in particular. They have made the quality of life in Midland really extraordinary. For the trustees of the Dow Foundation, watching their neighbors enjoy that quality of life makes their work tremendously rewarding. We re not interested in a lot of acclaim, we re really interested in doing some good work, said Doan. There are two sides to giving. You get to do a lot of good and you feel good about it.

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