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Press Release


Kathy Achtenberg, MEDC
(517) 335-4590

Deb Kollar, LMSW
School Social Worker - Bert Goens Lerning Center
(269) 539-5045

Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073;


Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for Bert Goens Learning Center Playground Project

$50,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC Public Spaces Community Places initiative


LANSING, Mich. – The Village of Lawrence will soon have an interactive, inclusive playground with the help of a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Bert Goens Learning Center(BGLC), and Van Buren Intermediate School District announced today. The campaign is being offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by August 1, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit:

“This project will create a public amenity that is accessible by all members of the community and will encourage wellness and quality of life in Lawrence,” said MEDC Vice President of Community Development Katharine Czarnecki. “We are pleased to be able to partner and resource this effort.”

Funding raised during this campaign will support the creation of the universally accessible playspace that will include a greenspace, interactive sensory elements, and outdoor fitness equipment. This project was the vision of Janice DiGiovanni, BGLC’s former Principal wanted to create a space for outdoor social and physical health that students and community members of any ability could take part in. Despite battling a stage IV brain tumor, Janice continued in her efforts and passion to see this inclusive play space become a reality. She devoted her time, energy, and resources to raise funds and actively Co-Chair the BGLC Playground Committee. 

Janice passed away in April, but the project only has continued to build steam in her honor. Carter’s Kids saw the opportunity to take part in this project and is generously partnering on a community build effort and resourcing this project.

"This matching grant will allow us to leverage additional resources to provide a wonderful opportunity to students, community members, and other groups wanting to enjoy this playground space," said Jeffrey Mills, superintendent of the Van Buren Intermediate School District."This renovation will be a point of pride for our school and our entire Lawrence community."

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, MSHDA, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at

“Inclusiveness is a key element in creating inviting communities,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League. “By creating a universally accessible playground, Lawrence is sending the message that everyone is welcome to come and enjoy their community.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of June 5, 2017, MEDC has provided $3,666,500 in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 123 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with more than $4.4 million raised from 19,552 individual donors.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community and talent development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Visit Pure Michigan Talent Connect at for more information on Michigan’s online marketplace for connecting job seekers and employers. Join the conversation on: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

For additional information, contact Matt Bach, director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League, at and (810) 874-1073.

Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at





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