The Grand Rapids Justice and Governance Partnership

Public safety is about more than policing. Safe and thriving communities prevent crime and reduce justice involvement by providing broad access to housing, healthcare, education, and economic opportunities. We must look more holistically at what contributes to public safety and quality of life, while also elevating the expertise of residents most impacted by chronic inequity. The Grand Rapids Justice and Governance Partnership (GR-JGP) provides a space for residents, community organizations, and city leaders to work together to create visions for public safety that are equity-centered and data-driven. GR-JGP will also identify how resources and policies can best be coordinated to support healthy and just communities. Grand Rapids is the first of a select group of communities to receive funding to collaborate with Aspen Institute’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, which is leading a national effort to promote systemic approaches to public safety and justice in mid-sized and rural communities.

GR JPG kids
The goal of the GR-JGP is to understand what contributes to public safety in our neighborhoods so that resources, cross-sector strategies, and local government policies can be coordinated to provide more equitable outcomes and access to opportunity in our community. We need to address the social conditions for public safety to avoid challenges from occurring in the first place.
Neighborhoods with high crime rates and law enforcement engagement also face persistent insecurity in housing, health, education, transportation, and employment. Many of these neighborhoods also experience a lack of resources and limited investment in these same systems. Data will be organized by neighborhoods to ensure assets and needs are accurately portrayed.
This isn’t a one-time research project to collect new data and make broad recommendations. Instead, it’s an effort to coordinate and consolidate existing data efforts into a shared platform so systems can be analyzed together. GR-JGP is not only getting data from a variety of agencies, but we are also listening to people in the community, valuing their expertise, and helping to find reasonable solutions to ongoing challenges.

The GR-JGP’s intentional focus on neighborhood outcomes will allow us to reach those who need the most resources and to better address community priorities. The shared data and analysis will be used to support collaborative policymaking, partnerships, and resource sharing across law enforcement, government partners, and community members.

The GR-JPG is a coalition of community members and agencies representing the local criminal justice system, as well as government, health, housing, education, and economic development sectors. Public Agency at WMCAT, a social enterprise of the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology, was the host organization for the initial planning phase, facilitating GR-JGP activities with community stakeholders and cross-sector leaders. The coalition is working with the Aspen Institute, a non-partisan organization that is leading a national effort to promote data-driven, community-focused justice and public safety reform.

Core Components

GR JPG collab

Justice Collaborative

Diverse stakeholders are gathered, reflecting interests across the justice ecosystem, including government and community stakeholders.
GR JPG audit

Justice Audit

Community-informed audits are conducted annually, mapping data and sharing information from multiple sectors within one platform.

GR JPG plans

Justice Reinvestment Plans

Collaborative, policy-making
implementation plans are developed and informed by the Justice Audit findings.

GR JPG intermed

Justice Intermediary

The host organization for the GR-JGP
that convenes and facilitates GR-JGP activities of the Justice Collaborative, Audit, and Reinvestment Plans.

Current Initiative Participants

Noele Stith, Project Manager,
Design Group International

Joe Marogil, Co-Chair, ACLU

Melissa LaGrand, Co-Chair
Kent County Commission

61st District Court
Bank of America
Baxter Neighborhood Association
Catherine’s Health Center
Cherry Health
City of Grand Rapids
Coalition to End Homelessness
Dwelling Place
Essential Needs Task Force
Family Promise
Grand Rapids Bar Association
Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce

Grand Rapids Police Department
Grand Rapids Public Schools
Grand Rapids Urban League
Greater Grand Rapids NAACP
Johnson Center at GVSU
Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation
Kent Co. Board of Commissioners
Kent Co. Health Department
Kent Co. Michigan DHHS
Kent Co. Office of Community Corrections
Kent Co. Prosecutor’s Office
Kent Co. Sheriff’s Office

Kent School Services Network (KSSN)
MI House of Representatives
Network 180
Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Spectrum Health
Urban Core Collective
Women’s Resource Center
YWCA West Central Michigan

The Aspen Criminal Justice Reform Initiative is funding the engagement of the GR-JGP with initial support from The Michigan Justice Fund at The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Bank of America, Arnold Ventures, Ford Foundation, Ballmer Group, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Slack, Inc.  Learn more about The Aspen Institute and the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative here.


Summer 2021

Grand Rapids invited to participate

Cross-sector leaders explore the opportunity to participate in the Aspen Institute’s Justice and Governance Partnership program.

Fall 2021

Host organization selected

Public Agency at WMCAT is selected to be the host organization; submits planning grant application on behalf of the initial Planning Workgroup.

Jan - Feb 2022

Planning grant awarded

Public Agency meets with the Planning Workgroup and Aspen technical assistance partners to prepare for grant activities and identify additional representation.

Mar - May 2022

Convene workgroups

Planning Workgroup builds shared understanding of the GR-JGP approach and drafts local initiative goals.

Jun - Aug 2022

Convene workgroups

Engage additional stakeholder groups to define initial Justice Audit elements.

Sep 2022 - Feb 2023

Review and refine

Workgroups refine an overall theory of change, initial governance structures, data needs, and the role of the Local Justice Intermediary.

Mar - Jun 2023

Identify Local Justice Intermediary

Expand stakeholder outreach and select a Local Justice Intermediary to lead future GR-JGP activities with the Local Justice Collaborative.

Jul - Aug 2023

Submit Implementation Grant

Local Justice Intermediary transitions to host organization and submits proposal to Aspen CJRI for implementation funding.

Initiative Updates

Relaunch of RFP for Intermediary

April 21, 2023 - Updated Request for Proposals for Local Justice Intermediary (due June 1, 2023)

RFP for Intermediary

December 2, 2022 - Request for Proposals for Local Justice Intermediary

RenÉe Cummings Event

November 8, 2022 - Disrupting Data Injustice: Meet + Greet with Renée Cummings

Planning Grant Received

May 6, 2022 - Grand Rapids receives a $150,000 planning grant to launch a community-driven justice mapping initiative