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Announcing the Meinders Retail Florist Education Grant Fund

Announcing the Meinders Retail Florist Education Grant Fund

New Grant Provides Support for Retail-Focused Educational Programs


We are pleased to announce the creation of the Meinders Retail Florist Education Grant Fund that will provide financial support for retail florist education.

Established through generous contributions from longtime industry members and AFE supporters, Herman and LaDonna Meinders, this new fund combines with the first-ever AFE Named Fund established in 2011 by the couple now totaling more than $500,000.

“Herman and LaDonna paved the way to encourage others to support AFE’s overall mission of providing for the future of the floral industry. Since that time, more than 30 additional named funds have been created,” said AFE’s Executive Director Debi Chedester.

When asked about his continued commitment to the Endowment, Herman Meinders shared, “As a past Chairman of AFE, I can attest to the importance of the work the Endowment does, and the support it provides for all aspects of the floral industry. I’m proud to have been a founding part of helping broaden AFE’s reach in the early days, and now to continue to support them with this focus on retail education.”

The new education grant fund specifically supports reduced or free registration fees to floral industry events for retail florists by providing grants or scholarships to nonprofit floral industry organizations for this purpose. The fund is fully sustainable and is expected to grow year over year, allowing for increased contributions of important industry educational programs. In its first year, it will provide over $10,000 in grant funding.

“Education has always been a priority for me. I attribute a lot of our business success to our focus on supporting continued education. If the florists aren’t able to grow and learn, then the retail segment will not thrive,” added Meinders.

Meinders 2011

Photo from AFE’s Annual Fundraising Dinner in 2011. Left to right: Then AFE Chairman Tom Butler accepts a $250,000 check from Herman and LaDonna Meinders with AFE Chairman-Elect Paul Bachman to create AFE’s first-ever undesignated named fund.

“It’s especially exciting to announce this new grant program during AFE’s 60th Anniversary,” said AFE Chairman-Elect Ken Young, AAF, owner of Phoenix Flower Shops. “As we promote ‘Celebrating 60 Years of Providing for the Future’ in our anniversary logo, this new fund demonstrates the commitment of AFE to support educational opportunities for retailers. Personally, I have known Herman for over 35 years and have witnessed his unwavering support of retail florists which will now continue for future generations of retailers.”

The costs of traveling to events, registration fees, and time away from shops prevent many retailers from experiencing valuable networking and essential learning from their peers. This grant fund will make a lasting impact and provide financial assistance to those who may not otherwise be able to attend events. “We are grateful for the continued support from Herman and LaDonna to develop opportunities for florists to continue their education. The Meinders have created a legacy of giving and support for the floral industry and education,” notes Chedester.

Requests for funding will be reviewed annually, and distributions will begin in 2022 through an application process. The grant application will open in January 2022; The deadline for submission is June 1 each year. The AFE Education Committee will oversee the process of reviewing applications received along with identifying industry events that qualify to determine the distribution levels to fulfill the intent of this retail florist education grant.

Herman Meinders, Past Chairman and longtime supporter of AFE, is founder and Chairman Emeritus of American Floral Services, one of the largest floral wire services that merged with Teleflora in 2000. Herman and LaDonna have been making personal and corporate contributions to AFE since 1980 and have been instrumental in many philanthropic projects and educational institution endowments.

Herman and LaDonna Meinders are founding members of our Legacy Circle, an honorary group of industry members who have made provision for a planned gift to AFE through a bequest, a life insurance policy, a trust, or otherwise.

Download the Meinders Retail Florist Educational Grant Application

Find out more information at our Educational Grants page. If you are interested in getting involved in our 60th Anniversary or joining the Legacy Circleview ways to give.