Grand Rapids philanthropist donates $3 million to support science education at Van Andel Institute
September 24, 2015
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (September 24, 2015)—Throughout his life, Arthur Jabury did his research. And what he learned about the educational programs and biomedical research at Van Andel Institute (VAI) inspired him to donate nearly half his fortune to the Institute upon his death. Jabury’s $3 million gift will help VAI expand innovative science education programs across the country.
“Benefactors like Mr. Jabury leave behind a powerful legacy – a legacy that not only supports our educational programs, but also focuses on empowering young minds with the ability to change the future of scientific discovery,” said David Van Andel, Van Andel Institute chairman and CEO. “His gift will have an impact for generations.”
Jabury’s bequest will enable the Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) Science Academy to help revolutionize how science is taught in the United States. Both VAEI student programs and professional development opportunities for science teachers will receive support. This includes the launch of NexGen Inquiry™, a Web-based, science investigation platform recently released for the 2015-16 school year.
As a successful stock market investor who kept meticulous financial records, Arthur researched VAI just as thoroughly as he explored investment opportunities. “Arthur researched everything he went into and became very interested in the Medical Mile, and what Van Andel Institute had done to make that happen,” said Arthur’s longtime companion Dorothy Broekstra. “He believed in the education and research happening at the Institute, especially since he was himself faced with heart and lung disease.”
Jabury grew up on the Southwest Side of Grand Rapids as the youngest of four children raised by his mother Anne. As an adolescent, he worked as a shoeshine boy along Monroe Avenue, and peddled newspapers with his older brother Abe. After graduating from Grand Rapids Union High School, Jabury served in the U.S. Army, and then went on to earn a business administration degree from the University of Michigan in 1949.
Jabury spent his career in accounting and personnel at General Motors Fisher Body plant on Alpine Avenue NW as a well-liked and well-respected visionary among his co-workers. John Damstra of Holland, 79, recalled him as an inspirational leader: “A very patient fellow…and an excellent tutor in my first job (at GM),” said Damstra, who went on to serve as Kent County Treasurer from 1972 until 1984.
Because Jabury had no prior interaction with the Institute, his sizable donation came as a surprise following his death in October 2014. “With a gift of this magnitude, we usually have a pre-existing relationship with the individual or organization,” remarked Love Collins, III, vice president of development, communications and marketing. “What a wonderful way to discover that the Institute has made a strong positive impression on someone’s life. We are very grateful for Mr. Jabury’s generosity.”
About NexGen Inquiry™
NexGen Inquiry™ is designed to augment existing curriculum and use innovative online tools to challenge students to think like scientists. The platform also offers professional development opportunities by making it easy for teachers to share ideas and best practices with one another, as well as interact with VAEI staff using online tools. Efforts are underway to underwrite the program; Jabury’s donation will help the initiative expand in school districts across the country