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.

2019 Academy

OurCity Academy begins its Fall series on September 17 from 5 - 6:30 PM.

The series will go through October 29, 2019.

Apply online here

Learn more about what to expect at the 2019 OurCity Academy sessions below. 

All sessions will take place at Parent University:

  • 1400 Fuller Ave NE, room 143
  • 5 - 6:30 PM
  • Dinner served at 5 PM, sessions begin at 5:15 PM

Click here to download the class schedule.(PDF, 186KB)

Date Session Curriculum

September 17

City Government - its internal structure and how it works How do decisions get made in City government? Learn how City Commission works and how departments are organized to create a first class city.

October 1

Neighborhood Services & Resources Learn about the services and resources Community Development offers city residents in housing, lead abatement, home loans, code enforcement and in building great neighborhoods!

October 15

Public Works for an environmentally clean city

Public Works use the latest cutting edge technology for waste, recycling and street management. Find out how they are working to make the City of Grand Rapids one of the most sustainable cities in the United States.

October 29 Public Safety presented by the new Chief of Police  What makes a safe community? What steps will the Police Department take to address community concerns? Hear directly from our new Chief!

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 three of OurCity Academy.

Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS)

About GRPS



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