Grand Rapids receives $150,000 planning grant to launch community-driven justice mapping initiative

The Grand Rapids community has been selected by The Aspen Institute’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative to participate in a pioneering assessment of the local criminal justice ecosystem over the next 5 years. The newly formed Grand Rapids Justice and Governance Partnership (GR-JGP) has received a $150,000 planning grant to improve the analytical capacity to support justice policy improvements in the community. From now through December 2022, GR-JGP will collaborate with stakeholders to create a holistic assessment of the local justice ecosystem that collects and visualizes data not only from law enforcement and courts but also from a wide range of sources that impact the criminal justice system.

The work will take an expansive approach to safety and justice and consider the impact of chronic insecurity in housing, health, education, transportation, and employment on residents. Community stakeholders will help determine the information to include and track, with the goal of building a comprehensive picture of how the justice system is experienced neighborhood by neighborhood. At the end of the planning phase, Grand Rapids will have access to additional funding to conduct the initial and future mapping assessments known as Justice Audits, which can then be used to identify where interventions are most needed, influence policy decisions, and coordinate resources across sectors. “The Grand Rapids community has worked for years to make our criminal justice system more fair and equitable,” said GR-JGP Co-Chair Joe Marogil of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.  “The JGP gives us a real opportunity to coordinate and develop solutions that are more community-informed, data-driven, and ultimately better for everyone.”

Grand Rapids is the first of 10 mid-sized cities or rural areas in the country that The Aspen Institute is supporting through the JGP, with funding support from The Michigan Justice Fund at The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Bank of America, Arnold Ventures, Ford Foundation, Ballmer Group, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Slack, Inc.

Public Agency at WMCAT, a social enterprise of the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology, is serving as the host organization for the planning phase and will organize GR-JGP activities with community stakeholders. A planning workgroup comprised of cross-sector leaders representing government, law enforcement, education, healthcare, philanthropy, community-based organizations, and for-profit entities formed last fall to bring this opportunity to Grand Rapids. With technical assistance from The Aspen Institute and its partners, this group has already started some of the initial work, and a larger collaborative of stakeholders will be invited to inform mapping inputs by early summer.

Members of the planning workgroup include:

Jamon Alexander, West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology
Mary Jane Berklich, Bank of America
Tasha Blackmon, Cherry Health
Dr. Avery Brown, Cherry Health
Lou Canfield, City of Grand Rapids
Brandon Davis, City of Grand Rapids
Sandra Gaddy, Women’s Resource Center
Amaad Hardy, Greater Grand Rapids NAACP
Nate Henschel, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
LaKiya Jenkins, LINC UP
David LaGrand, Michigan House of Representatives
Melissa LaGrand, Kent County Board of Commissioners
Michelle LaJoye-Young, Kent County Sheriff’s Office
Joe Marogil, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan
Parris McMurray, Grand Rapids Public Schools
Jeremy Moore, Spectrum Health
Kate Pew Wolters, KRW Foundation
Kristen Rogers, Grand Rapids Police Department
Beca Velázquez-Publes, Urban Core Collective
Aaron Yore-VanOosterhout, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University

To stay connected to the Grand Rapids Justice and Governance Partnership for updates and opportunities to participate in events, visit

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