By Kysha Frazier.
What do you get when you put CSW together with 7 community stakeholder groups in Grand Rapids, Michigan for 2 full days of brainstorming?
More than 350 distinct ideas aimed at creating economic opportunities for the city’s families!
It was both an exhilarating and also exhausting couple of days. We ran from meeting to meeting to hear hundreds of ideas from a diverse mix of stakeholders that included community residents and community-based organization staff. Input from these groups added to what we heard from a Steering Committee of community-based stakeholders in February.
These community conversations are part of CSW’s support to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as it develops a Family Economic Security Strategic Plan for its investments and work in Grand Rapids. Our assistance includes a mix of research, convening, and advising activities. We are bringing to this work our wide experience creating sustainable communities that feature economic opportunity especially for disadvantaged residents.
The ideas we’ve heard from stakeholders represent a full spectrum of community needs, including:
- Increased educational opportunity
- Stronger economic opportunity/advancement
- Deeper employer engagement
- Broader access to higher quality resources
- Enhanced systems
- Improved health and well being
Throughout the Spring, we will be meeting with additional stakeholders to gather ideas, organizing the community’s ideas into an actionable strategic plan, and identifying next steps for the Foundation to take in collaboration with the community. The strategic plan is expected to be complete in June 2013. We look forward to sharing the final product in a few months!