Grand Rapids mayor wins first place at US Conference of Mayors


George Heartwell. Photo via

In San Francisco, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell was presented with first-place honors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors/USA Funds 2015 National Education Pathways with a Purpose Awards.

Heartwell and the city of Grand Rapids were Sunday honored for the Mayor’s 100 Campaign and received a $10,000 grant.

The grant recognizes “mayoral leadership in developing and implementing programs that provide education pathways to successful completion of post-secondary education programs and entry into the workplace.”

“We believe that innovative programs like this, which connect young people to the workplace, are critical to the economic vitality of both local communities and our nation as a whole. We’re pleased to highlight this local initiative as a model for other communities,” said William Hansen, president and CEO, USA Funds.

Denver and Long Beach also received top honors.

An independent panel made up of former mayors, educators and workforce development professionals selected the three winning cities.

Mayor’s 100 Campaign

The Mayor’s 100 Campaign provides local businesses with an opportunity to offer young people who participate in the Leadership and Employment, Achievement and Direction program, or LEAD, meaningful, paid employment.

The LEAD program provides students with 2.5 weeks of training in employability skills, such as resume writing and interviewing.

After that period, the LEAD students interview with Mayor’s 100 businesses that then hire the young people at their discretion.

The students are employed for six months or 150 hours, and the cost of the employment is split 50-50 between the businesses and the city of Grand Rapids.

“Every young person deserves a professional employment opportunity to better prepare them for their future,” Heartwell said. “Our LEAD program and Mayor’s 100 Campaign make that happen.”

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