Creating a Legacy of Love and Belonging: Sandy Ward

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Sandy Ward tells a story: When her late husband, Cedric, was in the fourth grade, his teacher invited him to be part of a local theater production. African American children were needed for roles and Cedric enthusiastically accepted the invitation.

Being a part of that production sparked Cedric's lifelong passion for the arts. It also ignited his desire to challenge the status quo, asking why people of color were underrepresented in the arts and in board rooms across West Michigan.


Cedric and Sandy met when they were colleagues at the Community Action Agency. There, they advocated on behalf of local families experiencing financial hardships. The Wards shared a commitment to social justice and were well-connected in the community.

"We hosted Sunday brunch at our home with local community and business leaders," Sandy said. "People would ask, 'Why don't I see minority faces on my team?' We would respond and say, 'Yes, why? And what can we do about it?'"

The Wards dedicated themselves to promoting African American artists. They established a children's program at Circle Theatre and Sandy was by Cedric's side when he founded Robeson Players, an African American theater company.

"We started putting on plays in churches; It was important to meet people where they were," Sandy said. "Our message was that no matter your age or race, there is a place for you in the arts. If you want to do something, you should go for it."


Sandy Ward has made plans for Grand Rapids Community Foundation to receive a portion of the remaining assets of her retirement account, after her passing. The gift will be used to create the Cedric and Sandy Ward Scholarship Fund, to help future students pursue their passion for the arts.


Planning what will happen to your assets after your lifetime is important. Getting started is often the hardest part. The experts at Grand Rapids Community Foundation are available to help you explore creative ways to leave your mark on the community you love.

Reach a member of the team at 616.454.1751 and learn about three ways to quick start your will or estate plan.

Content and photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

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