Office of Equity and Engagement


We promote Community, Workforce, and Supplier Diversity for our employees and residents. We make sure the City complies with civil rights laws.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin, in any program, service or activity that receives federal funds.

Welcome Week  

September 9 – September 18, 2022, has been designated as National Welcoming Week.

The 2022 Welcoming Week theme is #WhereWeBelong! 

Through Welcoming Week, organizations and communities bring together neighbors of all backgrounds to build strong connections and affirm the importance of welcoming and inclusive places in achieving collective prosperity.

The City of Grand Rapids is home to people of all backgrounds, including those who were not born here, but now call Grand Rapids home. Grand Rapids’ success depends on making sure that all Grand Rapidians feel welcome. New Grand Rapidians are a vital part of our community, along with our long-time residents, bringing ideas, starting businesses, serving in civic roles, working in critical industries, and contributing to the vibrant diversity that we value.

Join us in honoring, celebrating and welcoming New Americans to our home.

Mayoral Proclamation 

View the 2022 Welcome Week Mayoral proclamation issued by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss here: Welcoming Week Mayoral Proclamation

Kent County Welcome Plan 

Gateways for Growth in Kent County and Grand Rapids is a community-led process aimed at implementing welcoming initiatives. Download the final Kent County Welcome Plan here:

Gateways for Growth Kent County Welcome Plan(PDF, 3MB)

Learn more  

The Office of Equity and Engagement, in partnership with Harriet Speaks LLC, hosted this program from March 2021 through July 2021 which consisted of an in-depth training for a group of diverse Grand Rapids residents and a series of community conversations that were open to the general public.

Community Diversity & Inclusion Conversation Series

This Community Diversity & Inclusion Conversation Series was designed for the general public and provided an opportunity for the larger Grand Rapids community to participate in the program through monthly panel conversations live streamed from the City’s Office of Equity and Engagement Facebook page. During the public conversations, the public was able to ask questions and share comments.

The monthly sessions were at 6 p.m. on the following Mondays: 

The Grand Rapids Public Library and We Are LIT Multicultural Bookstore served as our official literature partners and participants were able to borrow or buy the books recommended below. Books and articles listed were optional materials should the public want to dive deeper into the topic prior to the community conversation. 


  • Book: How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay.
  • Book: Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope by bell hooks



  • Article: List of Common Cognitive Biases by Kendra Cherry
  • Book: The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness byRhonda V. Magee 



  • Book: African Americans in Furniture City: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Grand Rapids by Dr. Randal Maurice Jelks
  • Book: A City Within A City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Dr. Todd E. Robinson

Community Diversity & Inclusion Training

Community Diversity & Inclusion Training provided an opportunity for Grand Rapids residents to have an in-depth diversity and inclusion learning experience through weekly self-reflection activities, focused readings, videos, discussions and group meetings to process learning and exchange perspectives. The learning was designed for those who sought foundational understanding and skill building on the following diversity, equity and inclusion topics:

  • bridging our differences and how to have crucial conversations
  • othering and belonging
  • personal narratives on race and ethnicity
  • implicit bias, microaggressions and stereotypes
  • institutional racism

The Community Diversity & Inclusion Training has ended therefore, the application period for the training aspect of this program is currently closed.  

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Human Rights Ordinance (HRO)

On August 27, 2019, the City Commission approved the revised Human Rights Ordinance. The Human Rights Ordinance was originally brought forward by the City’s Community Relations Commission in early April 2019. Over the past four months, City staff made changes to address City Commission feedback and community comments made at the public hearing in late April. This Ordinance will go into effect on December 1, 2019. The final ordinance can be found here.

Download Ordinance Here(PDF, 119KB)

File HRO Complaint

If you would like to continue on with filing your complaint, the complaint form can be found here:

File Complaint Here

HRO Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the new Human Rights Ordinance can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions Here(PDF, 132KB)

HRO Engagement

The Office of Equity and Engagement has been working with our partner agencies and the community to present training on the new Human Rights Ordinance.

Trainings Listed Here(PDF, 99KB)

We are committed to supporting our employees and curating a welcoming culture for all to thrive professionally. Learn more about City supported Employee Resource Groups (ERGS’s) here.

  • All of the following ERG’s are currently meeting virtually, please contact listed liaison for an invitation.

Prism GR

Prism GR formed to advocate for employees with minority gender, sexual and romantic identities. These include but are not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, polyamorous, non-binary, gender non-conforming and two-spirit (LGBTQIA+) staff members.

  • Meeting Dates: Third Thursday of the Month, 10 to 11 a.m., City Hall – Room 527
  • Prism GR Executive Liaison: Patti Caudill,
  • Prism GR Police Liaison: Lieutenant Maureen O’Brien,

West Michigan Chapter of National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA)

NFBPA is the principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of black public leadership in local and state governments. NFBPA is an independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1983. With over 2,500 members, NFBPA has established a national reputation for designing and implementing quality leadership development initiatives.

  • Meeting Dates: Third Wednesday of the Month, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Locations vary
  • WMNFBPA Liaison: Alvin Hills, 

Michigan Local Government Latino Network (MLGLN)

The Michigan Local Government Latino Network (MLGLN) is a regional chapter of the Local Government Hispanic Network (LGHN). MLGLN is dedicated to growing Latino government employees by promoting professional, leadership, and cultural excellence.  

  • Meeting Dates: Every other Friday of the Month, Noon to 1 p.m., Locations vary
  • MLGLN Liaison: Lilibeth Genao,

Learn more about the MLGLN chapter here

We administer and track community diversity efforts. This includes monitoring the Americans with Disabilities Act. We provide leadership on hate crime initiatives in Grand Rapids. Our office reviews and analyzes the diversity efforts of financial institutions engaged with our Investment Policy (400-01).

American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

File a Complaint in English

Hate Crime Initiatives

We work at the state and local level to respond to hate crime incidents that occur within our community. Our efforts include developing a membership list, hosting committee meetings, and collecting data that we share with governmental agencies.

We work with the West Michigan Alliance Against hate Crimes (MIAAHC). MIAAHC works to address hate crimes on the state and local level. Learn more about MIAAHC here.

Investment Policy

Our Investment Policy evaluates investment options and awards bonus basis points to financial institutions. Bonus points are awarded based upon their Community Reinvestment Act rating, local workforce employment, equitable lending practices and other innovative programs.

City Commission Policy 400-01 includes:

  • Investing to Encourage Community Lending
  • Banking and Employment Practices

Financial institutions under Section 3 of City Commission Policy may be eligible to get bonus basis points. Learn more about how bonus basis points are awarded in our Investment Program and Policy.

Supplier Diversity strives for the inclusion of all types of businesses in City contracts. We administer the award-winning Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) Programs:

  • Goods and services
  • Professional services
  • Construction
  • Certification of Micro-Local Business Enterprises (MLBEs)

Grand River Restoration MLBE Registration Plan

In efforts to restore the rapids in the Grand River, we are intentional about connecting local, minority, small, and women owned businesses to bidding opportunities. Our Micro Local Business Enterprise (MLBE) Certification is one way of doing business with these firms.

Learn more about our MLBE Registration Plan for more details on program qualifications and how your company participate.

MLBE Registration Plan(PPTX, 4MB)

Doing Business with the City

Want to do business with us? We're excited to partner! Your first step is to register as a vendor online. Complete the vendor registration process here

Planning a construction project? Make sure to pre-qualify with the Engineering Department here.

Apply for Bid Discounts

We reward businesses for engaging in activities that complement the City's Sustainability Plan. Discounts are also awarded to businesses that employ GR residents, participate in community partnerships, promote a clean environment, and more. Micro-Local Business Enterprises are eligible for discounts as well.


Goods and Services

Doing Business in the City - Economic Development

For more details about doing business in the city, visit the Economic Development Department's page.


Certified Micro-Local Business Enterprises (Micro-LBEs) are eligible to participate in the bid discount program.  Micro-Local Business Enterprises (Micro-LBEs), Veteran Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs), Qualified as Certified Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), and Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) will be listed in the Directory of Business Enterprises.

Apply in English

MLBE Directory

MLBE Registration Program

This guide serves as roadmap to assist City Staff and Residents with spending our dollars Local. Offering companies ranging from food to media vendors and beyond, with the goal of keeping more dollars in our local ecosystem. If you have any vendor recommendations that you wish to have added to the list, please contact us at 616-456-3027 or by email at

Neighborhood Business Guide

Our workforce diversity program administers and tracks workforce diversity efforts. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Increasing and celebrating our workforce diversity
  • Internal employee training on diversity and equal opportunity
  • Investigation on internal issues of discrimination and harassment

City of Grand Rapids Workforce Diversity Efforts and Activities

We are committed to providing employees with a working environment that celebrates diversity. A diverse workforce allows us to better serve our community. We provide technical help to employees about a variety of employment related issues. Some issues are listed below:

  • Americans with Disability Act (ADA) reasonable accommodations
  • Employment opportunities
  • Recruiting
  • Interviewing

We provide an annual comprehensive analysis of the employment activities. Our annual Workforce Diversity report identifies opportunities to recognize diversity achievements and analyzes our hiring, promotion and turnover activity. This report provides recommendations for improvement to the administration of the City.


We track Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) workforce information. Are you an EEO employer and want to submit your workforce numbers?

Submit Your Information

We're working on transforming our programs. We've reviewed and re-tooled the following City Commission Policies

Contract Compliance Administrative Guidelines

Our Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) programs provide bid discount opportunities for vendors and contractors. Here are a few examples of our bid discounts:

  • Resident status
  • Disability status and veteran status
  • The Investment Policy provides Bonus Basis Points for financial institutions wishing to be depositors of City funds
  • Tax Abatement Policies provide tax incentives for investment(s) within the City

The Contract Compliance Program has been re-tooled to provide data and information for all our programs. This provides the City Commission the opportunity to evaluate “who” the City does business with and how City spending directly affects the citizens of Grand Rapids. We've added provisions to allow fees to cover administrative costs. The maximum amount is $100/year per contractor with contracts or payments over $10,000. 

These revisions have been shared with the Monday Group. We've revised the Contract Compliance Program to require firms doing business with the City to:

  • Sign a Covenant of Non-Discrimination
  • Provide workforce data including employment of:

City residents
Residents of the General Target Area (GTA)
Veterans and individuals with disabilities
Females and minorities

  • Provide triennial updates of workforce data
  • Provide a data source for the EBO bid discount programs, the Investment Policy Bonus Basis points program and the Tax Abatement policies hiring and tracking programs

Our relations with the community are crucial to our work. Check out what our Community Relations Commission does.

Community Relations Commission