top of page

Our Purpose

Spring Arbor University Foundation supports and serves the mission of Spring Arbor University, a Christian university affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. 


The Foundation will focus on building an endowment for the university, promoting good donor relations, and assisting in operational and capital fundraising projects.

Year of Establishment


Network of Alumni & Friends


The Spring Arbor University Concept

Spring Arbor University is a community of learners distinguished by our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts, total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, and critical participation in the contemporary world.




Doug Wilcoxson


Executive Vice President

Spring Arbor University

Greg Bontrager

President & COO (retired)

American Cancer Society, Inc.

Philip Curtis

Partner and Managing Attorney

Curtis, Curtis & Brelinski, P.C.

Brent Ellis


Spring Arbor University

Sharon Griffith


Bales, Inc.

Robyn Jacobson

CEO (retired)

Entrust, Inc.

Kenneth Johnson

CEO & President

Grand Legacy Corporation & Intellimax Corp.

Tracy McCullough

President & CEO (retired)

The Cardinal Group

Tricia McGuire

Special Projects Director

Lenawee Christian School

Vice President

Merillat Family Foundation

Donald Walker

Global Demand Planning Administrator (retired)

Eli Lilly and Company

David White

President (retired)

David B. White Financial


As one of the leading universities in Christian higher education, Spring Arbor University has been committed to educating students from a Christian perspective since its founding in 1873.

Over the past five years, the U.S. Department of Education has made inquiries and activities that threaten access for SAU students to state and federal financial aid because of the university’s commitment to educate students from a Christ-centered perspective. 


Estimates indicate that if legislation is enacted, the cost to the university could amount to as much as $15 million annually, through the current student body and new enrollment. Spring Arbor University proudly serves students from all walks of life, including many first-generation college students, who require financial assistance from state and federal grants and loans, in addition to institutional scholarships. This potential threat would reduce access for generations of college students who wish to attend a Christ-centered college or university.  


To prepare for this potential loss of revenue, the university, through the Spring Arbor University Foundation, launched the “Freedom to Educate” initiative. Through this initiative, individuals, foundations and businesses have the opportunity to participate in this monumental initiative to secure $300 million in endowment to substantially reduce the potential risk to the university’s revenue stream and guarantee that future generations have the opportunity to learn at a Christ-centered institution. 


One strategic way the Spring Arbor University Foundation raises critical funds for the Spring Arbor University Foundation Endowment is through the establishment of the Spring Arbor Group, LLC.

The Spring Arbor Group, LLC (SAG), led by a group of successful business investment and operating professionals, is a Michigan limited liability, private equity company. This innovation business model launched, Freedom Partners No. 1, LLC, which is managed by the Spring Arbor Group, LLC and funded by private investors. The proceeds from these investments are used to acquire operating businesses. 


The expectation is that acquired operating businesses will generate a reasonable return for Freedom Partners No. 1, LLC investors in addition to all or a portion of the $15 million in annual income needed in supporting the university’s “Freedom to Educate” initiative. Strategic plans estimate that profits from businesses acquired by Spring Arbor Group, LLC as “Freedom Partners” will meet or exceed the $15 million annual goal within 5-10 years.


The Spring Arbor Group, LLC creates an attractive value proposition with prospective Christian, faith-based business owners, seeking options for retirement, or the potential sale or dedication of their business to the Freedom Partners No. 1, LLC. This empowers the owners as they receive a fair market value from the sale of their business as well as furthering the access to Christ-centered higher education.  


The Spring Arbor Group, LLC targets the acquisition of companies with a minimum of $1 million EBITDA earnings annually. The group focuses on acquiring a wide array of industry enterprises whose owners’ values align with those of Spring Arbor University – Christ-centered higher education integration of faith and learning.


The Spring Arbor Group, LLC is able to tap into the expertise and experience of its 50,000+ network of alumni and friends, University Board of Trustee members and Spring Arbor University Foundation Board of Directors, so that it can engage with most any company opportunity it encounters.


The group does not desire to highly leverage the portfolio companies but instead desires cash flow from the earnings of the corporations it acquires. As a general principle, the group seeks to own 100% of the portfolio companies it acquires however it is open to partnering with owner operators as well.


Interested in becoming a Freedom Partner investor?

Interested in selling or dedicating your business to Freedom Partners, LLC? 

Contact Doug Wilcoxson at

bottom of page