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This week, the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) revealed their most recent collaboration, We Are GR. We are GR is a triannual publication, augmented by a website, Facebook page and Twitter account, that aims to provide information about city and school services. The new collaborative effort replaces the Grand Rapids Public School’s “Highlights” as well as the City of Grand Rapids’ Parks and Recreation Guide.
Tom Almonte, Assistant to the City Manager, says the new print edition will have 16 pages of information related to GRPS and 16 pages related to city information.
Mayor George Heartwell says the two organizations have a track record of successful collaboration.
“The success of our community is directly connected to the ability of Grand Rapids Public Schools and the City of Grand Rapids to excel. We understand the correlation between both of our organizations. A good example of our commitment to work together is the Office of Our Community’s Children, a public-private partnership of the City of Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Public Schools and the community,” says Heartwell.
"Recently with the new leadership of Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal and City Manager Greg Sundstrum," explains Almonte, "there is new energy and new interest to engage in conversations about potential new initiatives…with the idea of providing better services with reduced cost- and We Are GR came out of those conversations."
To keep the community informed between publications three times a year, We Are GR's website, Facebook page and Twitter account will be updated as new information becomes available. These online communication platforms will allow the information to be shared for those who don't want to wait for the print publication, says Almonte.
"The reality is that many people in the community would rather wait for the print and read it on paper, but many others would rather find it online," he says.
Almonte explains that an rss feed will be made available on the website for those who want to be alerted when new information is added. Current communication methods such as the City's website and Facebooks accounts will continue to be used.
"The way that we use the City's Facebook is to post information about something that is affecting the city," says Almonte. "Those outlets will be used in the way we currently use them."
Almonte explains that the City used to spend $7000 per issue for the Parks and Recreation Guide, which came out four times per year. The guide went out to 11,000 households and business. Now, with the partnership, We Are GR will be sent to 84,000 households and businesses, as well as over 400 "hotspots," such as neighborhood associations, all at a lower cost than what they were doing before. The first issue, after including advertising revenue, cost the City less than $5,000, which Almonte points out is less than what they used to pay for the old version that only provided information about Parks and Recreation departments. The City and GRPS hope that in future publications, they can pay 100% of the publication through ads from community businesses. Almonte believes this is possible because advertising in We Are GR is a advertising to an audience that is reading the publication.
"It's open to everyone," says Almonte. "When people receive it, they want to read it because it contains information related to the public schools, parks and recreation and the city. When they receive it they are using that publication, so our intent is to maintain giving out the information -whether it's print or web- to make sure that people have the information that they need. We want the community to be informed."
the red penner, ink slinger, storyteller, page changer. when not working as the managing editor at The Rapidian, holly is typically found scribbling in her journal, playing in her studio, getting muddy in the garden, or experimenting in the kitchen. she has a not-so-tiny boy for a son and a very patient man for a husband.