CREATING SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IN GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
FEBRUARY 12, 2014
Creating Sustainable Economic Opportunity in Grand Rapids, Michigan

By Kysha Frazier

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is advancing family economic security in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in collaboration with Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) and community stakeholders. This collaboration will involve community members in near south and near west Grand Rapids neighborhoods working together to invest in and act on strategies that will help move local families to 200%+ of the federal poverty level.

This new effort – supported by a two-year, $318,000 grant to CSW from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation – is led by Sr. Policy Associate Kysha Frazier and builds on the work CSW began with the Kellogg Foundation and the community in 2013 to develop a roadmap for growing local family economic security. Based on the input of nearly 100 community stakeholders and research on best practices around the country, this roadmap includes strategies for creating simple, accessible, results-oriented systems for residents; developing personal assets by helping residents make informed, long-term financial decisions; offering comprehensive bundled services that deliver resources to neighborhood residents; and expanding training and employment that leads to sustainable careers.

“We are very pleased to support ongoing efforts in Grand Rapids to promote economic security, as a key factor in creating the optimal conditions for children to develop, learn and grow. We value our work alongside communities to help parents and families access promising career pathways, accumulate assets and achieve financial independence and freedom from economic barriers based on race. We look forward to seeing what we can achieve in partnership with CSW and community stakeholders in the focus neighborhoods,” explains W.K. Kellogg Foundation Program Officer Andrew Brower.

The next phase of the collaborative’s work will involve putting into action the recommendations in the roadmap, through the shared efforts of residents, community organizations, and local funders. As a result of this work, families in the neighborhoods of focus will see increased economic opportunity and financial stability.
“We are eager to continue our collaboration with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and community members in the focus neighborhoods to ensure that all residents have access to economic opportunities and have a chance to build a sustainable livelihood. The success of our efforts in Grand Rapids is central to our mission and is of deep importance to us as a Michigan-based organization,” says Jeannine La Prad, president and CEO of Corporation for a Skilled Workforce.

Corporation for a Skilled Workforce is a 23-year-old national nonprofit that partners with government, business, education, and community leaders to connect workers with education and good jobs, increase the competitiveness of companies, and build sustainable communities. CSW helps communities change how they do business by convening community based alliances, advising funders and key agencies interested in community reinvention, and using data to drive innovation.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit
www.wkkf.org.

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