2021 Winter PARTNERS in Community

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PA R T N E R S

in Progress

In October, Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved $370,000 in grant awards from the Fund for Community Good and Field of Interest funds. These partnerships demonstrate how the generous commitments from donor partners over decades have provided resources to meet today’s needs. The dedication of local nonprofit and grassroots partners to improving the lives of everyone who calls West Michigan home is apparent throughout this work, as well. AFRICAN COLLABORATIVE NETWORK, $150,000

The African Collaborative Network works to uplift African voices in decision-making spaces as they advocate for better outcomes in health, economics and education through programming, resource connection and networking. This grant partnership supports their work as they plan, organize and address economic inequity at a systems level.

THE DIATRIBE, $10,000

The Diatribe empowers youth to raise awareness of social issues through a variety of programming. This grant supports capacity building to expand performing arts programming and services. This partnership was made possible by the Fund for Arts and Social Engagement and the Leonard and Eileen Newman Fund for the Arts.

GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, $10,000

This grant partnership supports expanded stakeholder engagement in Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Strategic Plan Process. This partnership was made possible by the William H. and Inetta P. Martindill Fund.

SEEDS OF PROMISE, $200,000

This grant partnership supports Seeds of Promise as they develop a community giving circle and implement their Neighborhood Improvement Plan. It will support their ability to create a community investment program to allow local residents to invest in their community development and have input in how their money is spent.

SEEDS OF PROMISE

Supporting Resident-led Community Change Seeds of Promise is a community improvement hub located in the Southtown neighborhood in Grand Rapids. They describe themselves as a “bottom-up” organization, rather than being “top-down,” and 75% of their board is made up of community residents. This place-based initiative has worked in the neighborhood since 2014, supporting residents in creating and directing their strategies for community change. The organizational goals include helping neighbors manage their money, find and retain jobs and maintain their housing. Recently, Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved a $200,000 grant award to Seeds of Promise to support their work and expand their capacity. “The Community Foundation is committed to resourcing grassroots movements and organizations like Seeds of Promise,” said Eugene Sueing, Community Foundation program director. “These strategies support community leaders and community-led solutions to improve the overall quality of life in their neighborhoods.”

INVESTING IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

One way the housing impact team is making a difference is through the Neighborhood Improvement Plan. In partnership with Northpointe Bank, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, the Seeds of Promise NIP provided nearly $80,000 in grants for existing homeowners to make deferred maintenance repairs in 2021. “Seeds of Promise processed more applications than any other county in Michigan for the NIP, making Seeds of Promise a leader in the whole state of Michigan,” said Ronald Jimmerson, executive director of Seeds of Promise.

Seeds of Promise will soon pilot a community giving circle. This giving circle will generate a local source of capital to be reinvested back into the community. This approach supports local residents as they invest in their community development and determine how their money is spent. “The development of these community revitalization programs is critical to the future growth and local economic development,” Ronald said. “These innovative strategies will help build local equity and wealth creation for residents, the neighborhood and the overall community at large.” The Seeds of Promise resident-led model helps residents improve the overall quality of life in their neighborhood. It also elevates voices of communities of color in systems and neighborhood design. This model directly corresponds with the Community Foundation’s grantmaking strategy from our unrestricted resources. “We believe that people closest to the pain are closest to the solution,” Eugene said. “We aim to invest in projects that are communityled in voice, scope of work and the iterative process for change.” H.G.F. Tracy Byrd, the first homeowner served through NIP, who is now an employee of Seeds of Promise.

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Seeds of Promise achieves their goals through resident-led impact teams, such as the housing impact team. This group improves resident access to quality, cost-effective housing and works to maximize owneroccupied housing in the community. Due to historical racial inequity, poverty and systemic inequities, many homeowners lack the ability and resource connections to make critical home repairs or address code violations. As a result, many homeowners are forced to give up their homes and move out of Southtown.

COMMITTED TO COMMUNITY-DRIVEN IMPROVEMENT