Robinson, Jacob and Delores

The Robinsons are educators with modest incomes who find the time to share their talent and make a plan of giving that is a benefit to others. They made charitable giving a part of their budget each year. They are active in many organizations that build community, especially those related to education of children.

Biographical Highlights

Both Delores and Jacob Robinson were children during the Great Depression. Their families struggled to make ends meet. Their families grew vegetable gardens, and as children they had to take jobs such as waiting tables. Jacob scavenged coal that fell from railroad cars along the tracks. Both families were strongly rooted and involved in their churches. Both Delores and Jacob witnessed their parents giving back to their communities by sharing their resources. They spent their careers in the Grand Rapids Public Schools system of Michigan, teaching and in administrative positions. They volunteered their time toward educational programs in the community. Despite never attaining great wealth, they maintained a plan throughout their marriage of always setting aside a portion of their income for charitable giving.

Historic Roots

Delores was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where her father was a mechanic at an air force base. She came to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1959 as a teacher. Jacob was born on the west side of Grand Rapids on August 28, 1928, and attended public schools as a child. His father was the minister of New Hope Baptist Church. Jacob attended Grand Rapids Junior College and Aquinas College. Jacob began his career as a history teacher at Catholic Central High School. The couple married in 1960.

Importance

The Robinsons are an excellent example of the fact that two educators with modest incomes can find the time to share their talent and make a plan of giving that is a benefit to others. They made charitable giving a part of their budget each year. They are active in many organizations that build community, especially those related to education of children.

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

Both Robinsons volunteered their time toward educational programs in the community. They were involved with a Best Start Program through their church that prepares young children to enter school. They also started a reading program at their church called Free to Read. Delores volunteered as a tutor. As a couple they gave a regular portion of their income to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Key Related Ideas

Surviving childhoods during the Great Depression, both Robinsons were raised in families with strong church connections. Both became educators in Grand Rapids. Throughout their marriage, they have given back to their community with their time, talent, and treasure.

Important People Related to the Topic

Both Robinsons credit their parents for being their role models. Despite the hardships of the Great Depression, they were committed to doing what they could for others.

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • The Grand Rapids Community Foundation: Michigan’s oldest nonprofit organization pools donations in order to invest them and make grants to a variety of charitable organizations. https://www.grfoundation.org/
  • New Hope Baptist Church: The church held its first service in 1934, and Jacob’s father was the fourth pastor there. Jacob grew up in New Hope Baptist Church. (https://newhopegr.org/)

Related Web Sites

  • Grand Rapids Public Schools: Michigan’s third largest school district offers diverse options for families to ensure that all students are educated, self-directed, and productive members of society. https://www.grps.org/grps1/

Bibliography and Internet Sources

Clipping file and oral history in the SOUL of Philanthropy collection in the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections of the Grand Rapids Public Library