Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Fetzer Institute?

We are a private operating foundation based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Established by broadcast pioneer John E. Fetzer (1901-1991) the Fetzer Institute uses its philanthropic resources to create programs that foster awareness of the power that love, forgiveness, and compassion can have in our world.

What is a private operating foundation and how is it different from a grantmaking foundation?

A private foundation is one whose funds originate from one source, in this case an endowment from John E. Fetzer. An operating foundation is an IRS classification and is defined as one that spends at least 85 percent of its income directly for the active conduct of its activities. As an operating foundation, the Fetzer Institute works with its partners to create programs aligned with its mission. This is in contrast to a grantmaking foundation, which can be public or private and has the principal purpose of making grants.

Who can receive funding from the Fetzer Institute?

The Fetzer Institute does not accept unsolicited proposals, offer grants, or educational scholarships. Individuals and organizations are invited by the Institute to help create and implement its projects. Occasionally, funding is available in the form of requests for proposals, and such opportunities are posted on this website. If you are an individual or a nonprofit seeking a grant, please visit the Foundation Center for advice and resources.

Where does the Institute's money come from?

The Institute operates on funding from the sale of its founder's major assets, which include Fetzer Communications, a Michigan-based, multistate broadcasting empire including radio, television, cable, and closed-circuit music transmission. John E. Fetzer also owned the Detroit Tigers baseball club from 1956 to 1983. The sale of the team and his media holdings resulted in the endowment of the Fetzer Institute.

Is the Fetzer Institute a religious organization?

No. However, the Institute does honor and learn from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions.

Is the Fetzer Institute related to Fetzer wines?


Is the Fetzer Institute a part of Western Michigan University?

No. Western Michigan University's conference facility, the Fetzer Center, is located on their Kalamazoo campus. The center was named for Mr. Fetzer in recognition of his many years of leadership in the local business community and his continuing support of higher education. It includes an exhibit of Mr. Fetzer's broadcast and baseball memorabilia. The Center is not owned by or affiliated with the Institute in any way.

Does the Fetzer Institute support local charitable projects?

Yes, through The John E. Fetzer Institute Trust, administered by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo County may request up to $5,000 per project from this fund, which is distributed on a quarterly basis. Applications are available by contacting the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

Who can use Seasons?

Seasons, the Fetzer Institute's meeting facility, is available to those who are invited by the Institute to partner with it in the creation and implementation of its programs. Seasons is not available for reservation or to rent.

Who can visit GilChrist?

GilChrist, the contemplative retreat center of the Fetzer Institute, is open to the public. Located in Three Rivers, Michigan, GilChrist offers private retreat space and facilitated activities to groups and individuals and serves those committed to deepening their experience of the sacred in everyday life.