The Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation announced Thursday that it has changed its name and widened its scope.

President and CEO Lawrence Burns said that what's now The Children's Foundation hopes to operate throughout the state, and has officially established ties in western Michigan to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation and Brain Injury Association of Michigan, both in Grand Rapids, and the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine in Kalamazoo.

The $125 million foundation intends to become the state's foremost organization devoted to children's health and well-being, he said. The hope is that with the expanded footprint will come increased fundraising for an organization that gives out about $6 million per year.

"First, you have to establish a presence in those communities, particularly in the western part of Michigan," said Burns, who joined the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce this week. "I've been coached: they're very generous, but first you have to show up."

Burns said the foundation had struggled somewhat since the Detroit Medical Center was sold to Vanguard Health Systems in late 2010. With the switch of Children's Hospital from nonprofit status, the foundation could only offer support in non-billable categories, which excluded things like medical equipment and expansion.

"For a while," he conceded, "we didn't know what our identity and purpose would be. We're excited about this evolution."

Children's Hospital and its affiliates remain a priority, Burns said, with $4.3 million in grants awarded this year.

Local nonprofits Forgotten Harvest, Detroit Public Television and YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit all received grants Thursday during the ceremony that also saw the announcement of the name change.

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