Public Agency at WMCAT opens applications for community justice program

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Brandy Arnold Courtesy WMCAT

An equity-centered design consultancy and social enterprise of the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology is seeking applicants for its tuition-free Community Catalysts program.

Grand Rapids-based Public Agency at WMCAT on Monday opened the application process for a new cohort for the Community Catalysts program, which seeks to engage a diverse group of eight community members who bring different lived experiences to co-create equitable outcomes for Grand Rapids.

The application process is open through Sept. 7, and those interested can apply here.

Public Agency said the Community Catalysts program was created as an innovative response to community inequities. Grand Rapids has been ranked both as one of the top places to live and one of the worst places economically to be a Black American, and the reasons for it are numerous and intersect with systems such as economic development, housing, education and criminal justice.

“The (Community Catalysts) program equips individuals with tools and knowledge to innovate on a systems-level while working with organizations and businesses that are committed to co-creating equity-centered policies and programs that impact our city,” said Brandy Arnold, program manager at Public Agency at WMCAT. “This type of collaboration is critical if we want equitable outcomes prioritized when solving complex issues in our communities.”

Program participants learn through a curriculum built around equity-centered design, leadership and collaboration and systems awareness. By the end of the program participants will:

  • Understand the basic processes and tools of equity-centered design
  • Develop their capacity to lead across differences
  • Better understand the impact of interlocking systems that shape the region and their place within those systems
  • Apply their learning in real time through a community challenge with a local partner

Following the program, catalysts will have access to contracted, paid work opportunities, such as community listening facilitation and project coaching, through Public Agency at WMCAT.

The program will begin Oct. 8 and will include seven program days from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. with the final day Nov. 20. All program days will be in person at WMCAT, which follows strict health and safety guidelines for COVID-19. The program will be moved online if a shutdown is ordered.

More details regarding which days the program will take place can be found on the application form online.

Public Agency at WMCAT is seeking applicants of all backgrounds and lived experiences. If applicants move on to the next round, they will be asked to interview with the staff. From there, finalists will be chosen and notified by the end of September.

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