City invests in resident resiliency, racial justice through Match Fund

Published on September 02, 2020

Photograph of five raised garden beds with various plantings

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City of Grand Rapids recently made investments to support projects designed to focus on COVID-19 resident resiliency and intentionally bring community together to advance equity and address the impacts of structural racism. The investment was through nine contracts with local resident leaders as part of the City’s Neighborhood Match Fund (NMF).

NMF contracts were awarded to:

  • South East Market for MLK Freedom School, a multi-part series for residents on the city’s Southeast Side to learn about past and present social movements, food justice and healthy eating, yoga and mindfulness, art and access to books related to topics covered. A key goal is to lift up resident voice about how they want their local food system to look like while providing strategies for residents to change their own relationship with food.
  • Grandmas to the Rescue for a home garden project that includes installing raised garden beds and providing education on gardening, canning and agriculture business strategies for residents in the Burton Heights area. The goal is for households to grow their own food for immediate and future use.
  • 3:11 Youth Housing and HQ for a homeless youth awareness project that will create a youth-led multi-media educational campaign on youth homelessness in Grand Rapids and across Kent County. The project will highlight youth ages 14 to 24 who impacted by housing instability due to COVID-19 and offer resource information to help those with similar experiences.
  • Black Lives Matter Greater Grand Rapids and Justice for Black Lives for a murals project that will design and create two murals within the city. One mural will have a black lives matter theme and serve as a message to stand up for justice. The other mural will honor the life and legacy of Breonna Taylor, who was born and raised in Grand Rapids and recently killed by Louisville law enforcement.
  • Grand Rapids African-American Community Task Force for the GrassrootsUP project (#GRUp) that will gather data from multiple sources and stories of lived experiences to create a comprehensive report on the health and wellbeing of the Grand Rapids African American community. The report and corresponding online presence then will be the foundation for a series of digital community conversations and organizing efforts, including the ongoing need for COVID-19 education and resources within the community.
  • Mental Health Clinicians of Color in Grand Rapids to assist in decreasing the stigma of mental health, increasing the visibility of local clinicians of color and assisting them with funding to become certified in research-based treatments specialties and increasing the use of mental health services in communities of color. 
  • The Growth Center Inc. for Grace Cares, which will coordinate a communitywide giveaway of household toiletries, cleaning supplies and personal needs items to help combat COVID-19 and prepare for the upcoming flu season.
  • SECOM Resource Center for Community Connection, a series of monthly volunteer experiences designed to empower youth to engage with and assist persons with disabilities and senior citizens through service projects such as raking leaves, removing snow from walkways and other physical distancing activities.
  • Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network to provide food and basic need support to Grand Rapids residents who are the most vulnerable during the COVID 19 pandemic.

“These projects are excellent examples of community coming together to help one another, create positive change and to lift up resident voice,” said Stacy Stout, director of the Office of Equity and Engagement, which oversees NMF. “We are proud and thankful to invest in their efforts. It is always such an honor to review applications, be inspired by their community spirit and see the impact of their work.”

Each project is led or co-led by a Grand Rapids resident. All applications were reviewed for completeness and alignment to NMF objectives and current COVID-19 resiliency and justice priorities. The approved ideas moved forward in the contracting process by having each project lead meet one on one with the NMF team to create shared understanding on project scope and NMF contract requirements and discuss strategies for intentional and inclusive project outreach and impact. Grants totaled $64,000.

The City will accept project ideas for the next NMF round of funding Dec. 1-31. Grand Rapids residents and community-based organizations may apply HERE. Approved projects need to take place in Grand Rapids between March 1 and Aug. 31, 2021.


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