Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation

Our Mission is to provide funding for all areas of academic excellence in Forest Hills Public Schools.

We have one simple goal: to help continue a tradition of excellence. Established in 1986 as a community based, non-profit organization, the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation raises funds for a variety of academic needs in the district. Knowing we can no longer rely solely on state funding to maintain our high academic standards, our role has become increasingly vital. We are here to respond to the growing needs of Forest Hills Public Schools, now and in the future.

Jana Siminski

Director of Philanthropy

Phone: (616) 493-8954Email:

2017 - 2018 Disbursements

Individual Teacher Grants support the promotion of academic and arts excellence through programs or activities related to curriculum. These grants focus on opportunities and experiences for students. For the 2017-2018 school year, $128,395 were distributed.

Destination: Innovation Grants support advanced teacher training by funding the exploration of new learning methods, structures and ideas.

These funds enrich teachers with the essential resources – such as time, training and technology – so they can deliver a new type of learning in a new way. For the 2017-2018 school year, $123,429 were approved for distribution.

DI Grant Lists

The Support Our School Initiative at the Gala provides the Forest Hills community an opportunity to support their schools by giving directly to the schools(s) of their choice to fund specific needs identified by the principals at each school.

At the 2017 Gala, the Forest Hills community raised enough funds to fully fund every need identified by the principals of our schools! $132,711.

2017 SOS Grants

The Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation, in conjunction with each high school, awards scholarships to students based on educational and/or extracurricular achievements. The following were awarded for the 2017-2018 school year.

View Scholarships

The Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation distributed $300,000 during the 2017-2018 school year.

Superintendent’s Circle & Foundation Sponsors

It is community support that makes it possible to distribute funds to the fabulous FHPS educators. This support has a tremendous impact on classrooms across the district. These funds allow for innovative, creative programs that inspire our students to new levels of success! There are many ways to support academic excellence in Forest Hills. Thank you to all who generously give so our students can analyze, engage, communicate, collaborate, create and adapt!

The Superintendent’s Circle is the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation’s largest and most visible group of donors. Members receive Superintendent updates on the district, Foundation newsletters, and invitations to special Foundation events and activities.

The Superintendent’s Circle is recognized annually for gifts the previous year. 2018 Superintendent’s Circle list reflects 2017 giving.

Superintendent's Circle List

The following companies generously support the FHPS Foundation throughout the year. Thank you for your continued support.

Chairman's Message

Rick Armbruster
Chair, Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation

Welcome to the second edition of the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation annual report. I hope you find the report interesting and informative. In 1986, the Forest Hills Educational Foundation was formed to provide support to teachers across the district. In 2011, the Forest Hills Educational Foundation merged with the Fine Arts Center Foundation to become the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation. Under the new name, the mission remained the same – to provide funding for all areas of academic excellence across Forest Hills Public Schools.

With the support of our community, the Foundation is able to distribute funds through grants that directly impact teachers and students. All educators are able to request funds through the Individual Teacher Grant process twice a year. Also, administrators at each school may make requests through the Support Our School Initiative. These grant requests are funded during our annual Gala fundraiser each fall. Between these two grant processes, the Foundation awarded Forest Hills educators over $200,000 last year. As a result, we made a real impact on students by providing resources to support authentic learning, collaboration, and literacy initiatives, to name a few. And thanks to the generosity of our community, the Foundation has distributed over $2,100,000 since 1986 and over $1,100,000 the last five years!

We are pleased to report that the Foundation distributed over $400,000 through Destination: Innovation Grants. Destination: Innovation was an advancement campaign designed to support the exploration of new learning methods, structures and ideas. These funds enriched teachers with essential resources – such as time, training and technology – so they can deliver a new type of learning in a new way. Intended to be a three- year funding source, Destination: Innovation ran from 2014 – Spring of 2018. These funds will continue to make a lasting impact on how Forest Hills educators approach teaching and promoted a deeper level of professional collaboration both within individual schools and across the district.

At the end of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, the total assets of the Foundation were $4.2 million, an increase of $423,000 from the prior year. During the fiscal year, the financial markets continued to trade at historic highs, which resulted in a portfolio gain of 6.9% for the fiscal year. The Foundation employs professional management over its invested assets and maintains a growth oriented portfolio of individual equities, bonds and mutual funds. As of the end of the fiscal year, individual equities and mutual funds made up approximately 74% of the portfolio. Certain members of the Foundation Board and other qualified personnel from the community comprise the Finance Committee. This committee meets quarterly with the investment advisors to review the activity, results and strategy of the portfolio. The full Board of Trustees is provided with financial statements monthly and receives the results of the annual review performed by Maner Costerisan.

It is community support that makes it possible to distribute grant funds to our fabulous FHPS educators. This support has a tremendous impact on classrooms across the district. These funds allow for innovative, creative programs that inspire our students to new levels of success! We’re looking forward to another great year as we actively strive to increase the number of donors participating in the Foundation’s efforts. Thank you to all our supporters, and we hope you will continue to be a part of the amazing Foundation family. If you are just learning about the Foundation, we hope that you will consider becoming a contributor to our efforts to support academic excellence across Forest Hills.


Rick Armbruster, Chairman — Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation

Board Profiles

If you are passionate about the Forest Hills Public Schools and would like to use your talent to help students achieve lifelong success, we invite you to volunteer for a board position. Please contact the Foundation office if you would like to learn more about our board.

Since returning to Grand Rapids after my fellowship I have witnessed the incredible growth of the city and of the Forest Hills Public Schools.

I have been active in various non-profit organizations, including serving as Board Chair for the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids. I understand the importance of a quality education and the opportunities it allows for personal and professional growth.

I am passionate about helping to grow the Foundation so that it can assist in enhancing the educational experience for all of our students. My wife and I have three children in the Spanish immersion program and I am excited to be able to help grow the foundation to help ensure Forest Hills remains a high quality school district.

When my wife and I moved to the area in 2007, we chose to live in Forest Hills because of the school district’s excellent reputation.

If we had to do it all over again, we would certainly make the same decision. We have two kids in the district and continue to be impressed with the broad range of educational opportunities available to them each year.

Excellence is not static, however, so Forest Hills must continue to seek ways to further engage our students and to offer them real-life, innovative educational opportunities. The Foundation plays a huge role in helping to make this a possibility for our students both today and into the future.

I am honored to be a supporter of both the school district and the Foundation with my time, energies, and passions. Innovation doesn't happen overnight.With strong community support, however, we can continue to engage and challenge our students in order to prepare them to thrive in world of tomorrow.

I have always been an active member of the community in which I live. When I moved to MIchigan in 2006, I became involved with the Foundation to better understand the challenges facing our district. We as a community are responsible for the education of our children. The Foundation is an invaluable asset that provides teachers with the tools they need to help our students excel.

Our schools and our community are focused on a common aim of doing what is best for children.

Throughout the history of our school district, our community and our staff have given their time, their talents, and their treasure to ensure that each child has what she or he needs to unlock their unique and limitless potential.

I value the Foundation as a means to bring creative, unique and ’out of the box‘ programs to our students. When I came to the district as Superintendent in 2006, I was and remain committed to doing what is best for our children. This means providing each and every child with the very best education possible.

I am excited and honored to be on the Forest Hills Foundation Board.

My husband and I have been involved with the Foundation for several years and my in-laws for over 30 years. All of our 4 children attend Forest Hills Eastern and we have been impressed at all levels as they have gone through the Forest Hills system.

I feel strongly that it is our responsibility, as a district, to give our children a solid educational base. My passion has been in developing children. I have been privileged to serve the Forest Hills Community with high quality, early childhood education at a school I own in Cascade. I am hoping to bring all my experiences and connections from my career to help further excellence in our school system.

My family and I have been a part of the Forest Hills community for over 15 years.

We have a college student who is a FHPS graduate and two current Eastern High School students.

Although I have been involved with the Foundation for a number of years, I look forward to building community awareness about the financial support it provides to our schools, allowing for educational enrichment that would otherwise be cut due to decreased state funding.

As the oldest of six children, I grew up in East Michigan and am a product of a public school education. I graduated with a BBA from the University of Michigan and earned my law degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law. My family and I moved to the Forest Hills Public School District area in 2011. Actively involved within the district, I see my role on the foundation as a way to give back to our community. The Foundation spearheads amazing events and initiatives to provide aid for all areas of academic excellence including literacy, arts, technology and much more. I eagerly join this passionate group of people to support educators as they continue to develop new and innovative ways to engage their students.

I believe in the POWER OF COMMUNITY and look forward to strengthening existing relations while building newer ones in my efforts to serve our district and to always make my family proud. This work brings me great joy and I am grateful for the opportunity.

I am a native Michigander but a transplant to West Michigan. After pursuing career opportunities in Washington, DC and San Diego, CA, my husband and I have chosen to raise our three young children here in the FHPS district.

It was by design that we relocated to a place where we believe our family will have access to the best public education possible! We have happily acclimated back to the Midwestern culture and weather.

When not working, my free time is most often spent volunteering in the community, horseback riding or working on an unending list of cottage and home improvement projects. I am excited to bring my perspective and experience to the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation board and am looking forward to playing a role in the continued success of our district’s pursuit of educational excellence.

In today’s challenging school state funding environment, I believe that active community volunteer involvement and support from private funding sources such as the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation is the difference that will allow us to keep building and maintaining true academic excellence in Forest Hills in the future.

I am privileged to serve the community and help to move the Foundation forward into its vision for the future as the Research and Development arm of the Forest Hills Public Schools. We have three children that are at the elementary, middle and high schools at Eastern and I am passionate about supporting the continued excellence in Forest Hills.

My professional background is in business, marketing and the technology industry. I look forward to the opportunity to volunteer my time and talents to the foundation in our pursuit of giving each child in the district the opportunity to achieve their personal best in life through innovative teaching, technology and learning opportunities.

Bio Coming Soon!

Eighteen years ago when I moved to Grand Rapids, I was looking for a place to purchase a home and was attracted to the Forest Hills area because of the quality school system.

Over that time, state funding has decreased dramatically. By being part of the Foundation, I see this as an opportunity to work with the community to help ease the financial burdens placed upon this district.

I have two children in the district and I want the best for them and for all Forest Hills students and staff members.

I am a proud product of the Forest Hills Public Schools. From my first day of kindergarten in 1984 to my last day of high school in 1997, I was surrounded by energetic, caring and motivating teachers every day.

I know how a great education in Forest Hills can lead to success later in life. Additionally, I am the son of a former Forest Hills teacher and have seen first-hand the amount of time and effort it takes to be an outstanding educator.

My kids are now students in the district. Their love of school and for their teachers is proof to me that excellence still reigns. Certainly, times have changed since I was a student.

The Foundation’s focus on funding innovative programs spoke to me. Supporting our teachers by giving them the financial support to try new and different teaching methods will ensure continuing excellence for our students for years, decades, to come.


Annual Financial Year End Audit performed by Maner Costerisan PC.

Investment Funds Managed by Merrill Lynch.