OurCity Academy



OurCity Academy is a program designed to help Grand Rapidians find services and resources in our community. The four-class series will focus on empowering residents to lift their voice in the community. We're committed to ensuring that all community members can live, work, and play in Grand Rapids.

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First Session

Grand Rapids Public Museum
272 Pearl St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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All Other Sessions

1167 Madison Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
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September 18, 2018

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm: History of Grand Rapids at the Grand Rapids Public Museum
5:30 pm: Pizza at City Hall after the Session

October 9, 2018

5:00 pm: Meal served at LINC Gallery
5:15 pm - 6:15 pm: City Structure and How it Works
Presenter: Tom Almonte, Managing Director

October 23, 2018

5:00 pm: Meal served at LINC Gallery
5:15 pm - 6:15 pm: City Attorney's Office and Its Functions
Presenter: Anita Hitchcock, City Attorney

November 6, 2018

5:00 pm: Meal served at LINC Gallery
5:15 pm - 6:15 pm: City Budget and Where Your Dollar Goes!
Presenter: John Globensky, City Treasurer

Dear Participant,


The United States is a nation of immigrants, and immigration continues to shape and strengthen the economy of our country.  Throughout its history, the United States has become a beacon of opportunity to all people.  IN the mid-1800’s, the Irish migrated to this country for a better life.  In the early 1900’s, Polish Italian, Jews, and Asians joined the Irish in the pursuit of better economic opportunities followed by other groups, including Hispanics, in the late 1900’s.  Our diversity has long been considered a national asset and an important element of the unique American identity.  Empowering Grand Rapidians to understand and participate in our democratic process of government benefits the whole. 

Grand Rapids continues to attract Grand Rapidians to be part of our community.  As the Mayor of the City of Grand Rapids, I am proud of the diversity reflected within our population.  This growth is reflected within the student base of a key partner in our community.  Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) serves nearly 17,000 students, representing 55 countries with 54 different languages spoken. 

Your local government, not-for profits, and business community are aware of this growth and embrace the riches it adds to our community.  OurCity Academy Program is a new program being designed and implemented with key partners to empower Grand Rapidians to understand and participate in our democratic process and learn about services available to all members of our community.

Grand Rapids is known worldwide for the contributions made to elevate and celebrate diversity.  OurCity Academy Program reflects the commitment to our shared values and belief that excellence is best achieved through diversity. 

Upon graduation, OurCity Academy participants will be able to help others navigate successfully through our community and make contributions to ensure we continue to be greatest city in our Nation.



Mayor Bliss signature

Rosalynn Bliss

Mayor, City of Grand Rapids


We've partnered with organizations in Grand Rapids to create year two of OurCity Academy.

Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS)

About GRPS



Grand Rapids Public Museum

About the Museum

This innovative program was designed with the contributions of partners and members from the community.  This endeavor would not have been possible without the investment, expertise and experience of those listed here:

Elisa Perez-Arellano, BSW, LLMSW, Social Worker, Health Net of West Michigan

Reouhidi Reuben Ndjerareou, System Entrepreneur and Advisory Committee Member of African Collaborative Network (ACN)

Ndeye Rokhaya Ndao, Transition Coordinator of Wyoming High School, African Collaborative Network (ACN) Advisory Committee Member

Mayda Bahamonde-Gunnell, Ed.D., Executive Director for Leadership Middles Schools /ELL/Equity and Inclusion, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Ronald Gorman, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Lea M. Tobar, M.Ed., Educational Consultant

Roberto Torres, President, Grand Rapids Sister Cities International

Mary Cook, Transformation and Analysis Team Associate, City of Grand Rapids

Tom Almonte, Managing Director, City of Grand Rapids