Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

S.O.U.L. of Philanthropy

Sharing Our Uncommon Legacy of Philanthropy
A project of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation

West Michigan Philanthropists

This unique resource for educators, youth workers and parents inspires learners to carry on the legacy of local philanthropists to improve their communities through giving time, talent, and treasure. In addition to the heartwarming video documentary, The Gift of All: A Community of Givers, Learning to Give provides creative educator resources for grades 6-12 that guide learners to create their own stories of giving. Although this beautiful documentary features Grand Rapids, Michigan, the inspiration and discussions are relevant for any community.


The Gift of All: A Community of Givers

This documentary consists of excerpts from compelling interviews with Michigan philanthropists, sharing their stories, values and wisdom. The one-hour video reflects on the lives and lessons of this generation.

Watch the video now.


S.O.U.L. Lessons


Profiles in Philanthropy: Concepts, People & Organizations

Briefing papers summarize the life and philanthropy of the individuals highlighted in the documentary.


West Michigan Philanthropists



View quotations from notable philanthropists on the subject of philanthropy.


About the SOUL Project

The Gift of All: A Community of Givers features interviews with philanthropists. Produced by the S.O.U.L. of Philanthropy (Sharing Our Uncommon Legacy), the documentary explores the reasons why, in 2004, the Chronicle of Philanthropy recognized the Grand Rapids-Holland-Muskegon, Michigan area as the nation’s second most generous region per capita after Salt Lake City-Ogden, Utah. With this documentary, the history of giving and volunteerism in West Michigan is preserved in the words of those who helped to create this unique culture of philanthropy, so future generations can learn from those who have gone before them and be inspired to become givers themselves.

The mission of the “S.O.U.L.” team—a group of Michigan oral historians, writers and filmmakers—was to create a lasting testimony to the power of philanthropy in the words of those who have helped to create a culture of prosperity and giving in the Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area. This community has benefited greatly from their efforts, successes, and generosity. The hope of the project leaders was to encourage the passing of the torch of philanthropy to the next generation by sharing the stories, values, and wisdom of these philanthropists.

The project consisted of the production of approximately thirty video interviews of West Michigan philanthropists—most of them seventy or older—who helped to define, perpetuate, and strengthen the virtue of giving to create urban renewal and prosperity in their community. The video interviews, along with transcriptions, were donated to the Grand Rapids Public Library for archival purposes.

Parts of these interviews, as well as commentary from experts in the field of fund development, were used to create the documentary The Gift of All: A Community of Givers to capture the story of how and why the culture of giving in the Greater Grand Rapids area began in the late 1950s and how it continues today.