Demographics Statement

1. Demographics

The City of Grand Rapids is dedicated to equity and leads with racial equity as our focused approach to provide services and design policy to work for those positioned furthest away from access and opportunity due to centuries and the current realities of structural racism disproportionately hurting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). This focused approach helps us achieve our mission “to elevate quality of life through excellent City services.” We can’t be excellent if we aren’t equitable!

The first objective in the City’s Strategic Plan is to “embed equity throughout government operations” with a mandate for all City departments to “disaggregate all data, to the extent possible, by race, ethnicity, gender identity and geography.”

One way we assess if City efforts and policies are equitable is to collect and disaggregate data to determine if there are disparities in access, outcomes and representation. In an ideal situation, all data would be available by race, ethnicity, non-binary gender identity and geography. Yet, some data sources we need to rely on due to external reporting requirements do not align to how the City would prefer to collect and analyze data. For example, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires us to capture and report staff data using their binary gender and combined race/ethnicity classifications.

Ideally and at a minimum, we could have all applicable data disaggregated by:

  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Gender identity or gender expression
  • Geography

To learn more about how we're embedding equity throughout our operations, check out our Strategic Plan below.

Strategic Plan

2. Ethnicity

Ethnicity, as used in federal reporting requirements, is whether an individual is of Latino/Hispanic origin or not. For this reason, ethnicity is often broken out into two categories, Latino or Hispanic and Not Latino nor Hispanic. Latinos/Hispanics may report as any race or many races depending on how they identify.

Many systems combined race and ethnicity questions. That’s why we can’t disaggregate by both in all instances. Whenever possible, City departments should collect ethnicity separate from race and in a format similar to the following:

Your Ethnicity

□ I am Latina/Latino/Latinx/Hispanic

□ I am NOT Latina/Latino/Latinx/Hispanic

□ Prefer not to say [Include this option if person is not able to skip the question]

3. Race

Our race definition and classifications are like those of the U.S. Census so we can cross-reference City data with community data for analysis. Race is a social construct and does not reflect one’s biology or genetics, but race, due to racism, has a very real impact on one’s life.

An individual’s racial identity usually reflects society’s definition of race recognized in this country, such as:

  • Black or African-American
  • Asian
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • White

Whenever possible, City departments should collect race separate from ethnicity and in a format with option to self-describe, such as:

Your Personal Racial Identity (select all that apply)

□ African-American/Black

□ Asian (Includes Indian Sub-Continent)

□ American Indian/ Alaskan Native/ Native American/ Indigenous

□ Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

□ White

□ Biracial or Multiracial

□ Prefer not to say [Include this option if person is not able to skip the question]

□ My Racial Identity Is Not Listed: ______________________

4. Gender Identity or Gender Expression

Most data sources collect gender identity in a binary – male or female – format. This is not inclusive. Whenever possible, City departments should collect gender identity in a format similar to one of the following:

  1. Open text box format

    Gender: ________________


  2. Multiple Choice with option to self-describe

Your Gender:

□ Woman

□ Man

□ Non-Binary/Non-Conforming

□ Prefer not to say [Include this option if person is not able to skip the question]

□ My Gender Identity Is Not Listed: ______________

Note: For events with younger people, you may also want to include Girl and Boy as options.


For registration events, such as the City’s Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit, it is recommended that the registration process capture pronouns of the individual so the pronouns can be displayed on event nametags. Here is an example of how to ask for pronouns:

Your Pronouns (Please note that pronouns will be printed on event nametags).

□ She/Her/Hers

□ He/Him/His

□ They/Them/Their

□ Prefer not to say/Prefer not to have on nametag [Include this option if person is not able to skip the question]

□ My Pronouns Are Not Listed: ______________

5. Neighborhoods of Focus (NOF)

Neighborhoods of Focus (NOF) are 17 census tracts in the near west and south side of Grand Rapids in relation to downtown.

Due to systemic and historic inequities, residents in NOFs experience the most disparate outcomes in the following compared to other Grand Rapids census tracts and the city as a whole:

  • Income
  • Educational attainment opportunities
  • Home ownership
  • Wealth accumulation

The City of Grand Rapids strives to eliminate inequities, therefore is intentional to invest in these areas. We are also committed to invest in systems, practices and policies that advance justice and equitable outcomes throughout the city.

These tracts represent 36% of the city's total 47 census tracts. Geography is often used as a proxy for equity when demographic information isn't available and therefore it is a measure of equity.

Interactive NOF Map

NOF Map with Street Markers

6. Geography

Due to historic and current practices, cities across the country remain segregated along racial and ethnic lines. Grand Rapids is no exception.

While some areas experience more access and opportunity, other geographic areas experience injustice and negative disparate outcomes. Thus, the City tracks data, outcomes and representation by geography as a proxy for race and ethnicity and also to analyze representation for various efforts.


Collecting Data

Whenever possible and appropriate, City departments should collect geography of where the participant lives. We understand there are stakeholders, such as business owners, who rent or lease property in Grand Rapids, but do not live here.

Business ownership can be collected separately if desired. For equity analysis, we need to know at a minimum if they are a Grand Rapids resident or not via Question 5 below. Possible geography questions listed in order of preference:

  1. What is your home address?

    [This allows us to analyze data by Census tracts and neighborhoods, but, depending on the situation, people may not be comfortable sharing their home address often enter in their work address instead. Pair with Question 1 above.]

    • Street Address
    • City
    • State
    • Zip Code


  2. Street Name & Zip Code Combo

    [This allows the person to not give their full address while also providing enough data to analyze geographic representation.]

    • Please share the name of the street you live on (i.e. Hall Street SE)
    • What is the zip code of your home address?


  3. What is the zip code of your home address?
    • [Drop Down Menu or Open Text Box]


  4. Pin Intersection

    [This allows the person to pin on a map the closest street intersection closest to their home. This option provides privacy and data that the City can analyze]


  5. Do you live in the City of Grand Rapids?

    •  Yes/No [Drop Down Menu or Multiple Choice]


7. Additional Demographics

Demographics listed above are the minimum data points to capture for City initiatives as required in the City’s Strategic Plan.

We lead with racial equity. And we know that intersecting and additional communities, such as the LGBTQIA+ community and persons with disabilities, also experience systemic oppression. We will explore strategies to capture more data points to advance and track equity efforts and outcomes.