So I’m stewing today, and probably shouldn’t be. Today there will supposedly be an official announcement that students attending school on the west side of Grand Rapids, and meet certain criteria, will get their college education covered. I’m happy for those students, this is a major gift. I’m happy that people are investing in the lives of children, and providing hope.
What has me upset though, is that once again the NE side of Grand Rapids is seemingly left out.
There are all kinds of youth drop in centers on the SE side of Grand Rapids. There is special program funding for Hope Zones in the cities core, the SE side, and SW side. There are new ministries that will be launched on the South Side. The West Side is now getting free college opportunities. All of these things are great for children.
But what about kids on the NE side? Kids over here live like kids all over the city. They live in poverty, receive free meals from the school, struggle with reading & math, and have broken families. Kids over here are involved in violence, gangs, and are making babies at too young an age.
As the executive director of New City Neighbors (NCN), a non-profit working with at-risk youth on the NE side, I can’t help but feel bad for many of the children living in this community who keep getting ignored by foundations and programs that refuse to look this way.
This isn’t a rant, this is a plea. There are kids over here who need people to invest in their lives. It is time to redraw the Hope Zones, and time to start thinking about the many kids over here who need to be loved and cared for. NCN is doing much of the same work as non-profits on the SE side, but we don’t qualify for certain funding and support because of our location. It is time we stop ignoring the NE side, and time we, as a city, started investing in the lives of children here too.