ENGAGE WITH US
Our community engagement team is proud to work with organizations and partners around the state. Each month, the League highlights one of these community groups in order to share the good work they do.
Most Michiganders have spent time at the YMCA playing sports, swimming and running on a treadmill, but the full spectrum of the YMCA’s services includes so much more. Across the state, YMCAs are working on sustainable health and nutrition services, including some great work happening in Kent County. Healthy U works with thousands of youth to keep them moving in schools and community centers, while Nutrition in Action teaches youth how to cook with healthy and affordable foods.
YMCA has a Veggie Van, which travels around the Greater Grand Rapids area offering healthy produce at the same prices as less-accessible grocery stores. They are also working on a Healthy Corner Stores Initiative to help owners of corner stores stock fresh produce.
The League is encouraged to see organizations like the YMCA approaching health in a comprehensive way. They are simultaneously addressing pressing issues, such as chronic disease prevention, while also looking into the root causes of health issues that can be addressed over years of investment, relationships and hard work.
The Detroit/Wayne County “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign is designed to make small moments big by creating opportunities for meaningful family conversations anytime and anywhere. The main goal of the campaign is to increase public awareness about the critical role parents and families play in their child’s early brain and language development, and to support them with concrete tools to talk, read and sing with their young children from birth.
The campaign seeks to provide information to trusted messengers such as pediatricians, home visitors, child care providers, faith leaders, librarians, social service providers and others who have built positive relationships with parents and families. The campaign was launched by Great Start Collaborative-Wayne in partnership with the Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency.
The Literacy Center of West Michigan is an organization working “to bring about a just and vibrant West Michigan through the power of literacy.” Their dedicated staff and volunteer force work to provide a variety of literacy programs focusing on adults and learners who don’t speak English as their first language.
It has been a pleasure getting to know this organization in West Michigan and observing their approach to literacy and learning. Please visit their website to learn more and/or get involved!
Leaps and Bounds Family Services was established in 1988 as the Poverty and Social Reform Institute. The mission “to creatively and collaboratively focus on the educational, social and economic needs of children and families at risk” has guided the agency’s work since. Initially only serving the city of Detroit, the agency expanded to serving south Macomb County 15 years ago at the invitation of a community partner. Since then, the agency has expanded and provides services at multiple locations in Detroit, Dearborn, Hamtramck and Warren.
The agency focuses on early childhood services through work with parents, child care providers and informal caregivers. The goal for all services is to insure that children have the tools necessary to be successful in kindergarten and that parents, family, friends and neighbors have the skills and resources to support their role as a child’s first teachers.
Leaps and Bounds encourages anyone interested in getting involved with their work to contact them.
Linc Up is a community development organization located in Grand Rapids that provides services to Kent County.
The Linc Up mission statement cites that the organization has “a deep understanding of the systems, relationships and dynamics within the communities [they] serve and therefore uses a holistic approach to neighborhood revitalization.”
In taking this holistic approach to community development, Linc Up has a wide range of services, including housing assistance, leadership trainings, and a co-working space. They work with a large number of community partners in order to build up neighborhoods in Kent County and are currently generating a robust advocacy program. To learn more or to volunteer for Linc Up, please visit their website.
The Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC) was founded in 1997 with the goal of improving communities and lives.
The mission of DHDC is to make a difference by creating life-changing opportunities for youth and their families. The group is committed to meeting community needs by providing innovative and culturally appropriate programs and services. DHDC works in two critical areas: individual change and community change.
DHDC is rooted in the vibrant culture of the Latino community in southwest Detroit and the group has made over 20 years of positive change in the city.
Disability Advocates of Kent County is an organization dedicated to working alongside people with disabilities as they seek to lead self-directed lives and to advocate for accessible and welcoming communities.
Their programs include employment readiness, accessibility reviews, independent living supports, family support services, systems-change advocacy, and more. They have been doing outstanding work in Kent County to advocate for accessible and affordable housing and public transportation. They have also worked closely with us to track how current policies will affect those living with disabilities.
Thank you to Disability Advocates of Kent County for being a beacon of service and justice advocacy! Be sure to check out their website to learn more.
Black Family Development, Inc. (BFDI) is a comprehensive family counseling agency that was created in 1978 to promote and provide quality social work services in Detroit that were culturally relevant and culturally sensitive. BFDI’s mission is to strengthen and enhance the lives of children, youth and families through partnerships that support safe, nurturing, vibrant homes, schools and communities.
In Detroit area schools, BFDI is currently providing training on the use of restorative practices. This is a behavioral intervention model that is used in schools to reduce conflict and improve school climate and culture, with the ultimate impact of reducing suspensions and expulsions of students from the learning environment. BFDI has also been working with residents in the Detroit community to turn vacant, run down spaces into open, vibrant spaces utilizing landscape architecture to create green infrastructure. More information on BFDI’s work and events can be found at www.blackfamilydevelopment.org.
PRFC is a nonprofit organization focusing on overcoming structural racism in Grand Rapids. Its annual conference, FORUM, addresses issues of racial equity by connecting professionals across sectors to topical experts. PRFC underscores the importance of approaching the diversified workforce with a critical lens and being mindful of the ways the institutions we have created structurally exclude those who live in our respective communities.
Please visit the PRFC website, prfc-gr.org, to read up on their mission and view their other upcoming events.