GRassrootsUP project launches to amplify diverse voices

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The Grand Rapids African American Community Task Force, Michigan Black Expo and other community partners are launching the website for a new initiative intended to convene community voices on the issues of health, wealth and economic opportunity.

The partners said Friday that they will launch a new website for GRassrootsUp (GRUp), at grup.community, during a live Zoom event at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

GRUp is a “dynamic community development, technology and media venture empowering organizing efforts within the African American community and other disparate groups and collaborators in Grand Rapids.” It is supported in part by the city of Grand Rapids’ Neighborhood Match Fund and Spectrum Health’s Healthier Communities.

Through the “vibrant use of data, technology, critical conversations and storytelling,” GRUp will work to amplify community voices on the convergent issues of health, wealth and economic opportunity. GRUp’s efforts to gather data and stories of lived experiences will be available on the new web portal, designed to help “better align data, tech and information with community conversations and organizing efforts.”

The GRUp organizing efforts have included a response to COVID-19 through provision of ongoing education and resources.

Rodney Brown Courtesy GRassrootsUp

“We have learned a lot about the needs of our community over the course of this pandemic,” said Rodney Brown, a community organizer with the Grand Rapids African American Task Force and one of the founders of GRUp. “Distributing PPE and hand sanitizer has shown us that we need sustainable ways to continue to engage with our community, and this online platform will do that.”

GRUp also recently launched Cohort 1, a group of 16- to 26-year-olds ready to share their voices and make a difference in the community. Each cohort member committed to 10 weeks of participation, during which they are attending workshops and learning while also sharing their experiences and stories on social media and participating in a web series. When asked in a survey why they joined GRUp, one cohort member expressed a desire to be a change in the community and spread social awareness. Another said she wants to bring attention to mental health and to normalize therapy, and another yearns to create a better world.

People can email contact@grup.community for more information on GRUp and to request the Zoom link for the public launch of its website.

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