The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded the city of Grand Rapids with two grants that will go towards improving racial and economic equity in the city’s poverty-stricken neighborhoods. City officials formerly accepted the Economic Connections Grant and the Racial Equity Initiative worth a total of $1.8 million last Tuesday at the City Commissioners' meeting. W.K. Kellogg Foundation program manager Yazeed Moore says the grant is a chance for Grand Rapids officials to make good on their promise of increasing racial equity in the city.
“The city really has a great opportunity to begin to say, ‘what do we mean when we say everyone?And how do we really make this city ‘grand’ for all," Moore said. “It’s pretty clear here that not everyone is doing well in Grand Rapids. The city made a request to us for support, and we will bring together a group of stakeholders and look at how we tackle these disparities here,” he said.
Grand Rapids Mayor Roslynn Bliss announced plans for the Racial Equity Initiative at her State of the City Address in March. The Grant will go towards increasing job creation in 17 of the city’s neighborhoods where census tracks report 48 percent are living in poverty. According to a city press release, the grant will also "create a digital Racial Equity Dashboard for community transparency and accountability, and identify ways for community stakeholders to work together for community wide impact."
Moore says that while the Racial Equity Initiative tends to be more of a grass tops effort, the Neighborhood Economic Connections Grant is more grass roots.
“This is the aspect of the work where we are actually going out into the neighborhoods and engage with residents and train residents to be able to be in place to compete for jobs and employment opportunities here in the city,” Moore said.
Both the Neighborhood Connections Grant as well as the Racial Equity Initiative are for three years.