2018 Champion City

Grand Rapids, MI : 2018 Champion City

Equipping City Leaders with Data on Inequality Hotspots

  • 196,445

  • Rosalynn Bliss

  • Directly Elected Mayor

    Type of Government
  • 4 years

    Length of Term
  • Inequality

    Issue Area

The Problem

The lack of current, granular demographic data in Grand Rapids contributes to continued racial exclusion in policy decisions related to development, housing, health, employment, and environmental issues.

The Idea

The City of Grand Rapids will annually collect, analyze, and share the results of a community census through a publicly accessible dashboard, empowering city leaders with localized, actionable data on hotspots of inequality to help deploy health, housing, and other resources where they are most needed.

What Rosalynn Bliss, Mayor of Grand Rapids, MI is saying:

We are confident that our plan to develop a grassroots-led census initiative for collecting real-time data at the household and business level will advance our community goal of becoming a racially equitable city.


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • Grand Rapids is testing the idea of sharing more granular community data and is validating what would give users a more balanced perspective to make decisions. The city will gather feedback from development users, and through co-design sessions.

    Our idea will impact the Black, Hispanic and Latino residents in Grand Rapids because they will have a voice at the table.

    Becky Jo Glover, Director, Customer Service
  • Ideas into Action

  • What we're discovering through testing

    Normally in the planning process, public consultation comes in the form of a long report. The Grand Rapids team wanted to find out if providing accessible and relevant planning information would lead to more residents engaging with the process. They prototyped how this data could look and posted it online, so that residents could check how the proposed plans would affect their area. Sure enough, at the next planning meeting, around 150 animated residents turned up to discuss the proposed plans.

    Since the initial planning meeting, the city has realized that resident’s voices had not been included in the planning process so far. The team is now running prototyping sessions with community advocates to co-create how residents can play a bigger role in the city development process.

    We are trying to balance a power struggle that has been skewed for a long time.

    City Hall Staff
  • Reflections

  • What we've learned

    The overwhelming response from the communities engaged through Grand Rapids' testing highlighted that residents want to be consulted and given tools to understand the developments in their area. The Grand Rapids team developed their model to focus on supporting displaced people to remain in their area or even buy their own house.

    I’ve been in the neighborhood for 8 years and although everyone in my family works, I have never been been able to think about owning a house before.

    Grand Rapids resident

    Grand Rapids’ idea transformed into a resident driven model with a focus on shared equity affordable housing. The model is now designed to alleviate displacement, and increase equitable property ownership.