Community Engagement Initiatives & Partnerships

Kent County Welcome Plan

In 2018 our community received two research grants from Gateways for Growth, a national initiative for communities to develop multi-sector welcome plans to better integrate New Americans in their local community. We know how important a broadly diverse population is for the success of our state. Immigration is key to increasing diversity in our population and boosting our economy.

Without immigration growth, the state of Michigan would be poised to lose population for the second census in a row. Perhaps even more impressive, the economic power of Grand Rapids' immigrant community alone grew by more than $100 million in just one year, and immigrants in Grand Rapids hold nearly $1.5 billion in spending power. At the core of this initiative is the belief that Grand Rapids and Kent County are home to everyone who lives here, and it should feel like it too.

Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for New Americans in Kent County is not only the right thing to do, it also contributes economically to the area’s wellbeing. We want New Americans to stay in the area; they’ll stay if they feel welcomed, included, and valued.

Kent County Welcome Plan Steering Committee

Talent 2025

Founded in 2010, Talent 2025 is a catalyst working to ensure an ongoing supply of world-class talent for West Michigan.

Talent 2025 Logo

Composed of over 100 CEOs from the region, Talent 2025 illuminates gaps, evaluates leading practices, and advocates for the implementation of those leading practices to make West Michigan a top 20 employment region by the year 2025. Talent 2025 serves 13 counties in West Michigan, embracing the industries, businesses, and educational institutions of each county. We convene stakeholders from each of these sectors and facilitate an efficient collaboration that integrates resources, streamlines processes, and leverages energies to address the talent demand needs of each sector.

Kent County’s engagement in Talent 2025 includes:
  • Signing a CEO Commitment - This is a pledge to publicly demonstrate our company’s commitment to Inclusion and identify the specific methods to move our organization forward.
  • Measure Progress by Completing an Annual Benchmark Survey - The survey tool provides Kent County with confidential baseline data to better understand our organization’s current state from a demographic and cultural perspective.
  • Utilize Leading Practices to Drive Improvement - This involves working together with our 25 Departments and community to identify best practices to help build an inclusive culture.
  • Build Equity & Inclusion Champions in our organization - Kent County established a Cultural Insight Council in 2001. The Council is committed to working internally and externally to advance a culture that demonstrates equity and inclusion.
Program Overview »

Kent County Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Team

The Kent County Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Team, formerly established as the Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force, consists of faith communities and leaders from across Kent County that are committed to working with the County to address community needs. The Partnership has gained significant traction and plans to continue its labor of love and service in Kent County and our community beyond the COVID-19 crisis. The Partnership Team has been instrumental in assisting with vaccine outreach, education and community engagement and will expand their role to also support the Kent County Office of Inclusion and other County departments.

Key Accomplishments
  • Working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and state leadership to develop COVID safety guidelines for houses of worship across the state.
  • Helping faith-based organizations to develop their own COVID-19 safety policies.
  • Maintain the website to provide resources for faith leaders and communities.
  • Work with the Health Department to regularly distribute Bulletin Bits news updates.
  • Work with over 100 faith-based organizations to publicly support local health systems and close for three weeks during the height of the November outbreak.
  • Work with over 150 faith-based organizations to publicly adopt the Religious Congregation COVID-19 Vaccination Pledge to encourage all members of their congregations and community to get vaccinated, create volunteer networks to support community vaccination, provide resources and transportation to help people get vaccinated, and lead by example and personally get vaccinated.
  • Develop vaccination scheduling programs in the Black and Latinx community registering over 2,500 for vaccination.
  • Launched the “A Shot of Love” campaign that included door-to-door canvassing at 11 church sites to schedule community residents for vaccination.