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Update: We Have A Lot More Work To Do

Recently, I wrote about Tackling Bias in Grand Rapids, presenting data from the Johnson Center for Philanthropy’s VoiceGR Annual Survey. VoiceGR is a survey that the Johnson Center does annually and they just recently released the 2015 data. The updated data paints a stark picture of what adults in our community are experiencing and how they feel about their needs.

Overall, the 2015 statistics look, at best, fair for most individuals in the Mature Adult and Senior categories, which is how VoiceGR defines our focus age group.

Most individuals in these categories give Grand Rapids a grade of A or B. However, when we dive deeper into how this group is feeling about their community, the results are much different.


Almost a quarter of each group, Mature Adults and Seniors, is not meeting their needs very well.


47 percent of Senior respondents and 30 percent of the Mature Adult respondents have been discriminated against based on their Age, which is higher than what the 2014 respondents indicated.


48 percent of Senior respondents and 58 percent of Mature Adult respondents have been discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity.


Many residents, aged 46 - 64 in South and East Grand Rapids are looking for employment. The darkest blue in the map below indicates 36 percent or higher looking for employment, and the next darkest blue indicates that at least 22 percent of that age group are looking for employment.


When it comes to mental health, despite the results above, many adults aged 46 - 64 are rating their mental and emotional health as excellent or good. Although there are large pockets in the South and West of Grand Rapids where less than 60 percent of adults would rate their mental and emotional health as excellent or good.


Interestingly enough, many of the individuals in those same neighborhoods (with low mental health ratings, seeking work, and high discrimination) rate “People, Community (Friendly neighbors; Inclusive; Sense of cohesion)” as the greatest strength of their neighborhood. It seems like this group believes in the power of themselves and their neighbors for supporting each other.


I’ve presented only a small slice of the data, but you can see that in Grand Rapids many of our adults are facing tough situations. Many adults are struggling to meet their basic needs, many have experienced discrimination, and many are looking for employment. However, these same individuals are feeling mentally healthy and are seeing strength in connection with one another.

This is why Encore exists. We believe in the power of this group and want to see our community support adults, so everyone has the opportunity to live out their purpose. Grand Rapids is working on building the right ecosystem, but we still have a long way to go. A stronger community is one where everyone is healthy and where all adults get the chance to reimagine their second half of life and live in a vibrant spaces full of enrichment and opportunity.

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