Grand Rapids launches DEI fellowship program

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Jyarland Daniels, founder and president of Harriet Speaks LLC and longtime DEI practitioner Courtesy Harriet Speaks

The city of Grand Rapids announced plans for a community diversity and inclusion program in partnership with Harriet Speaks, a Michigan-based race, diversity and inclusion firm.

The program is part of the city’s continued efforts to foster diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the organization and throughout the community. It plans to do so by focusing on topics such as othering and belonging; institutional racism; personal narratives on race and ethnicity; implicit bias, microaggressions and stereotypes; and bridging our differences and how to have crucial conversations.

“This program is, in part, in response to several requests from the community to learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion, and practice skills and strategies to make our neighborhoods and city more welcoming and just,” said Stacy Stout, Grand Rapids director of equity and engagement. “In addition, the office of equity and engagement has a list of learning resources on our webpage and will continue to invest in the community through the neighborhood match fund, neighborhood leadership academy and the annual Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit.”

The program runs from March through July and consists of an in-depth fellowship for a group of diverse Grand Rapids residents and a series of community conversations open to the general public.

“We are simply thrilled to partner with the city of Grand Rapids in this innovative way — curating a brave space to learn and reflect on DEI topics both in a small group through the fellowship and host communitywide productive dialog on race, racism and strategies to move equity forward,” said attorney Jyarland Daniels, founder and president of Harriet Speaks LLC and longtime DEI practitioner.

The program’s fellowship will provide an opportunity for up to 35 Grand Rapids residents to have an in-depth diversity and inclusion learning experience through weekly self-reflection activities, focused readings, videos, discussions and group events to process learning and exchange perspectives.

The application window for the fellowship program runs Feb. 21 to March 7. Notification of participation will happen no later than March 12.

Those interested in the fellowship program are encouraged to attend one of the three virtual information sessions being held this month. To learn more about the information session dates and times, visit the city’s website here.

The Community Diversity & Inclusion Conversation Series is for the general public and provides an opportunity for the larger Grand Rapids community to participate in the program through monthly panel conversations live streamed from the city’s office of equity and engagement Facebook page.

Optional reading and video resources on that month’s topic will be available in advance of the panel discussion on the city’s website. During the public conversations, the public can ask questions and share comments. The monthly sessions are scheduled at 6 p.m. on the following Mondays: March 22, April 26, May 24, June 28 and July 26.

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