2017 Equity Profile highlights potential for equity to drive shared prosperity

d4d9f39aca054e979f1356c054ec4613_175x175_croppedReleased by Partners for a Racism-free Community 

An Equity Profile of Grand Rapids, released April 28 , highlights inequities in income, employment, education, and opportunity in Grand Rapids. The report was developed by PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Since 2011, PolicyLink and PERE have engaged in a formal partnership to amplify the message that equity—just and fair inclusion—is both a moral imperative and the key to our nation’s economic prosperity as America’s demographics shift and communities of color emerge as the new majority. An Equity Profile of Grand Rapids underscores while the city demonstrates overall strength and resilience, gaps in income, employment, education, and opportunity by race and geography place its economic future at risk. In 2014, more than 40 percent of residents were people of color, double the share (20 percent) in 1980. Diverse groups are driving growth and change in the region and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

“The City of Grand Rapids believes in equity-informed decision making which is why we are committed to creating and implementing an equity dashboard and scorecard,” said Stacy Stout, Assistant to the City Manager, City of Grand Rapids. “We don’t want data paralysis, we want action; if you have analysis without the action it often results in managerial racism and that hurts the community. Tools like the PolicyLink Equity Profile help us better visualize that work.”

“Robust data about the state of equity in Grand Rapids is essential for crafting strategies to improve outcomes for vulnerable children,“ said Huilan Krenn, Director of Learning and Impact at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. “Our foundation is committed to enabling communities to take data-driven actions using the powerful data contained in the Equity Profile.”

“There has been growing consensus amongst economists that more equitable cities and regions experience more sustainable growth,” said Jessica Pizarek, Associate at PolicyLink. “This is also true for Grand Rapids.  If racial gaps in income were closed, its economy would be $4 billion stronger. We call this the ‘racial equity dividend.’”

Other key findings in the report include:

• Since 1980, communities of color have driven the city’s population growth.  While Grand Rapids’s population has not grown much overall (only a net increase of about 9,000 people), its demographic makeup has changed significantly.  All of the city’s population growth since 1980 has come from communities of color, which has countered steady decline in the number of residents who are White.
• Young people are leading this demographic shift.  Three in fiveyouth under the age of 18 in the city are non-White.  Looking to the future, Grand Rapids will become a majority people-of-color city around 2050, just behind the nation, which will become majority people-of-color in 2044.
• In 2014, 12 percent of all residents who could work and were employed full time but still lived below 200 percent of the poverty line.  Latinos have the highest rate of working poverty, at more than 26 percent.
• Median hourly wages have dropped for all residents since 2000, but Black workers saw the largest decrease of nearly $3 per hour from 2000 to 2014. Latino workers continue to earn the lowest median wage of all groups at $12.30 an hour.

“I am glad PolicyLink is elevating data about racial inequities, particularly at a time when we are being presented with new studies locally showing disparate interaction with law enforcement in Grand Rapids communities of color,” said Faye Richardson-Green, Executive Director of Partners for a Racism-Free Community.

The equity profile and potential solutions included therein will serve as a unique resource for local advocates and residents seeking to address disinvestment in communities of color. To this end,PolicyLink and Partners for a Racism-Free Community are holding a panel discussion and community forum around equity in Grand Rapids this morning at DeVos Place (303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). To download a copy of the report, click here:


About PolicyLink
PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity by Lifting Up What Works®. For more information, visit PolicyLink.org.

Urgent Community Meeting – Tuesday, May 23


This and following meetings in other parts of the city are a chance to gather resident feedback on the city’s implementation of the 12-point plan and community/police relations. Join the NAACP, Micah Center, LINC, and other community organizations in holding our city and police accountable. Come speak up and have a say in our city’s recommendations! Join the event on facebook.

Learn “How to Save Seeds”


How to Save Seeds, Monday May 22, 6 to 8 p.m.
at Garfield Park Lodge, 334 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids 49507. Free!

Did you know that when you grow organic or heirloom varieties in your food garden, you can save the seeds to start new plants the next growing season? In addition to growing your garden budget, growing from saved seeds ensures a produce yield that is more nutritious and tastier.

Also, from a food justice perspective, saving seeds is activism for promoting seed freedom, food sovereignty and standing with Mother Earth and the environment.

Come and learn exactly how to save seeds from all different types of food plants — and help build an alternative to the failing industrial food complex. OKT also has a free hand-out on seed-saving. Download it here.


Thursday: “Health strategies from your garden and pantry”


May 18 from 6 PM – 8 PM
Sherman Street Church (lower level)
1000 Sherman St. SE 49506

Through tea sampling, delicious herbal snacks and discussion, participants in this workshop will learn some of the many ways certain herbs provide foundational support and detoxification to systems such as the digestive system, adrenal system, immune system, musculoskeletal system, lymphatic system and more!

Lottie Spady has incorporated the use of herbs for health and wellbeing since her teen years and been formally studying herbal medicine for the past three years. Lottie teaches the Seasonal Herb Series, a monthly herbal class and workshop, at Exhalation Integrative Wellness in Detroit. She leads plant identification walks, takes pictures of plants, and blogs about herbs and other stuff at Earthseed Detroit (https://earthseeddetroit.blogspot.com/)

Free “Know Your Rights” event planned for immigrants at Wyoming West Elementary


Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 6:00 PM ~ Martes, 23 de Mayo de 2017 a las 6:00PM
West Elementary Cafeteria, 1840 38th St SW, Wyoming, MI 49519 ~
Cafetería de la escuela primaria West

Light refreshments and childcare will be provided ~ Se ofrecerán refrescos ligeros y cuidado de niños

Wyoming’s West Elementary in partnership with KSSN presents: Information for the Community. Is it difficult for you to understand your legal rights? Don’t know who to consult? Receive answers to these questions and more from professionals in our community!

Escuela Primaria West en asociación con KSSN presenta: Información para la Comunida. ¿Se le hace difícil comprender sus derechos legales? ¿No sabe con quién consultar? ¡Reciba respuestas a estas preguntas y más de profesionales de nuestra comunidad!



  • Alexandra Gillett, Attorney from Justice For Our Neighbors ~Abogada de Justicia Para Nuestros Vecinos (JFON)
  • Ana Raquel Devereaux, Attorney from Michigan Immigrant Rights Center ~Abogada de Centro de los Derechos de Inmigrantes (MIRC)
  • Olga Martinez, Hispanic Center of West Michigan ~Centro Hispano de Oeste de Michigan
  • Elisa Pérez-Arellano, Community Social Worker ~Trabajadora Social Comunitario

For information, contact Erika VanDyke (KSSN Coordinator) call/text 616-648-6079 or Ruth Rolff (EL Teacher) at 616-530-7533 ext.4615.

Free OKT composting class tonight!

wgtw_compost_lg_textOn Monday May 15, OKT is hosting a free Composting class from 6 to 8 p.m. at Garfield Park Lodge, 334 Burton St. SE 49507. Come and learn about the true nature of compost and how to end up with the rich humus that your garden needs.

What is compost?   The term “compost” is overused and not clearly defined by those using it.  Commercial industries, backyard gardeners and community gardens say that they are composting but that’s not always the case. Commercial compost you buy at the garden shop or big box store is not regulated—and can even contain toxic industrial wastes. True composting results in fluffy humus that’s rich in carbon.  While similar to potting soil in texture and color, it is much healthier for your garden.

This is the third in a series of four food gardening classes that OKT is offering this May. Next Monday May 22, OKT will share “How to Save Seeds.” The four-part series ill repeat in June.

Learn to grow nutritious sprouts in a jar!

SproutsInJarFree! Spring Sprouting
6 to 7:30 p.m.
Baxter Community Center
935 Baxter SE 49506 (Entry on Bemis St.)

Our Kitchen Table and Baxter Community Center are hosting a “Spring Sprouting” workshop. Come and learn how to grow your own delicious, nutritious sprouts in a jar from dry seeds like alfalfa and lentils. When you grow your own sprouts for salads, sandwiches and snacks, they cost very little, you have an ongoing supply and they cost very little!