According to the Press, on Tuesday at Cornerstone University David Van Andel, Amway heir and chairman of the Van Andel Institute, lectured the attendees of the school's Executive Series Luncheon on the duty of businesses to give back to the community. By that he meant businesses should help others, create economic independence for the impoverished, promote education, and alleviate the "pain and suffering" of individuals.
That last mission, Dave noted, just happens to be purpose of the Van Andel Institute. So I suppose he would be OK with businesses fulfilling their philanthropic obligations by donating money and resources to his organization. But why should anyone donate anythng to the Van Andel Institute? Dave's late father Jay, who made his money with the Amway scam and then founded the institute, promised the people of Grand Rapids that most of his two-and-a-half-billion-dollar fortune would be committed to the continued operation of the Van Andel Institute. That's more than enough money to keep the place, and Dave's sinecure in it, chugging along.
But it appears that Jay's kids haven't kept his promise. Immediately after their father's death a year ago, they disbanded his foundation and stopped its funding of the Van Andel Institute, which totaled $30 million annually. After that Dave and his siblings made vague statements to the public that the family would continue to support the institute financially. But no specifics as to how much and from what source have been offered, and the Amway-smitten local media has not raised these questions let alone press them. Instead they, especially the Grand Rapids Press, have acted like P.R. flacks hyping the bio-tech boom the Van Andel Institute will bring to River City only if the public gets its act together to support it.
So Dave can lecture on our duty to give back to the community, which conveniently includes the Van Andel Institute. However, I say to Dave, "Show me the money!" his father promised to the institute. Until then, no one should cough up a dime for the institute.