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18-19 Impact Report Web Graphics10 Alumni Beene

After graduating from Grand Rapids Christian Schools, alumni go on to accomplish great things. Whether making their mark on the entertainment industry, building leaders and transforming communities, contributing to rain forest conservation, or using their athletic skills to inspire the next generation, the paths for GRCS alumni are as diverse as they are exciting. Catch up with these seven alumni who look back on how their experiences at GRCS prepared them to pursue their passions and explore God’s plan for their future.

Dr. Justin Beene

GRCHS Class of 2002

Founder, Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation

His greatest passion

Change, equity, truth-telling, theology, business, and the intersection between these things in the urban context

The three classes that influenced his career:

Math class with Ms. Ricketts, Bible with Mark Kuiper, and Psychology with Mr. Grasmeyer. I have never really thought about it, but it makes sense now since I have spent my career engaging in the cross-section of business, theology, and society

How he breaks down his identity as a serial entrepreneur and consultant:

I have started a number of companies, from landscaping to construction, a café to a failed coconut manufacturing venture in Guatemala. 

Now I provide consulting and executive coaching to a wide variety of for-profit and nonprofit leaders in Grand Rapids, around the country, and around the world who are seeking to lead from a place of deep conviction and excellence. 

Most of my time locally I spend leading the partnership of five organizations called the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation: a new model of innovation in the city. The Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation is a collective between non-profits: Bethany Christian Services, NAACP of Greater Grand Rapids, GR Nehemiah Project, and two social enterprises, Building Bridges Professional Services and Rising Grinds Café ­— partners working together to create a flourishing city.

Where business and faith met in his research:

I am passionate about change, equity, truth-telling, theology, business, and the intersection between these things in the urban context. My dissertation research really looked at theology and business for social impact in global cities. My unique study was on transformative business principles that actually create equity and model the person of Jesus within the DNA of the business model. 

I think these passions to see businesses as the normative way in which people move out of poverty, create wealth, and help Christ-followers sacrificially live into the likeness of Christ came from racial and economic struggles of my own.

His hopes for a future of transformative equity:

From an educational perspective, with all the excellent and superb educators, facilities, connections, family businesses, wealth, and relationships that the GRCS community stewards, I think that we have a great responsibility to not simply maintain the currently existing structure of only traditional charity — in which we have a long and outstanding track record of having a heart for the poor.

But we also need to ask ourselves how to really form the young minds of our students so that they see politics, business, education, or whatever careers they enter, or choices they make, to consider the poor and disenfranchised. This will help us move away from poverty alleviation but to one of wealth creation.

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