A partial shot of the VoiceGR online survey to collect baseline research on the needs and desires of greater Grand Rapids residents. Photo via voicegr.org
Grand Valley State University is looking to give a voice to the region's voiceless.
GVSU’s Johnson Center for Philanthropy has launched VoiceGR, a project aimed at collecting baseline research to learn more about the needs and desires of the greater Grand Rapids community.
The VoiceGR survey will collect information from residents of metro Grand Rapids on topics like the economy, employment, health care, education and racial equality.
The data will be used to offer deeper insight into Grand Rapids’ population and neighborhoods, as well as give West Michigan nonprofits and other local philanthropic groups ground-level information that will aid them in using their resources effectively.
“Most social service agencies in the community do their own individual surveys of small populations, but no one has done a large, city-wide survey to assess basic needs,” said Jerry Johnson, director of research for the Johnson Center’s Community Research Institute. “This is a larger sample size, and we are confident we’ll be able to establish a much more accurate baseline of what residents want, by capturing all of the voices in the community.”
VoiceGR’s team of researchers will be led by Jodi Petersen, senior researcher at the Johnson Center’s Community Research Institute.
The findings of the survey are expected to be released in December and January.
“We are polling residents about their satisfaction with the city, their employment status, the economy, racial equality and their reasons for staying in this are, among other important community questions,” according to the VoiceGR website.
“We are asking you to take 20 minutes of your time to affect the community,” the site reads. “Many organizations in the Greater Grand Rapids region will be using the responses to help shape community programs that will support your needs more effectively.”
VoiceGR researchers have also partnered with local community-based organizations — like Local First, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Kent Count Parks Department, the Literacy Center of West Michigan and both the Grand Rapids Public and Kent district libraries — to ensure access to citizens who wouldn’t be able to take the survey online, because they either don’t have a computer or Internet access.
The Community Research Institute will prepare briefs for the organizations.
“We make data-driven decisions in our grant making. Reliable, local data from the Greater Grand Rapids Community Survey helps power our decisions,” said Diana Sieger, president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. “The VoiceGR initiative will even further enhance our ability to make decisions based on strong, reliable data.”