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Community updates: Thursday, Sept. 10

Community leaders urge residents to complete census before Sept. 30 deadline; Grand Rapids Public Schools resumes all fall sports; Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities reopening this month, reschedules Girls Rock! Grand Rapids camp; and more.
Gertrude Croom, organizer for PROACTIVE, speaking at the Sept. 9 press conference on Grand Rapids' census turnout.

Gertrude Croom, organizer for PROACTIVE, speaking at the Sept. 9 press conference on Grand Rapids' census turnout. /City of Grand Rapids

Community leaders urge residents to complete census before Sept. 30 deadline, announce canvassing

A coalition of community leaders are reminding Grand Rapidians to complete the 2020 census before its Sept. 30 deadline, with a new door-to-door push coming to undercounted areas.

In a Wednesday press conference, the Grand Rapids Complete Count Committee joined with leaders from Grand Rapids Public Schools, the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the West Michigan Asian American Association, and other organizations to give an update on where the city’s census turnout stands.

The Complete Count Committee reported that around 26,000 residents still haven’t participated in the census, which would end up costing the city $470 million over the next 10 years if they're left out. This money would go directly to resources like schools, hospitals, and roads, the leaders stressed.

“We’re in the homestretch of the census, and there is a profound sense of urgency since our community will lose nearly a half of billion dollars if we don’t get everyone counted,” said Lou Canfield, Complete Count Committee Liaison. “We’re running out of time, so we need all hands on deck to ensure we get a complete count.”

To ensure all residents get counted, the Complete Count Committee has organized door-to-door drives, or canvassing, over the next two Saturdays – Sept. 12 and 19 – in undercounted area’s on the city’s southwest and southeast sides.

Community volunteers will join census takers, employed by the U.S. Census Bureau, in knocking on uncounted residents’ doors and helping them complete the census. They’ll also educate residents on how the census is safe, confidential, and does not ask about citizenship.

COVID-19 precautions will be in place, the leaders said, with volunteers and census takers wearing personal protective equipment and following public health and safety guidelines.

“Our underserved communities are still at risk for going undercounted,” said Rev. Willie Gholston II of First Community African Methodist Episcopal Church, who joined the press conference. “If that happens, our community could miss out on millions of dollars in funding for the services that are so important to us.”

The leaders emphasized that the census takes only 10 minutes to complete and can be done any time until Sept. 30 online, by mail, or by phone.

Residents can sign up to volunteer for the Saturday census drives through an online Volunteer Signup form provided by the City of Grand Rapids. More details about the city’s efforts are also available on its website.


Grand Rapids Public Schools resumes all fall sports

Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is resuming all fall sports, its superintendent, Dr. Leadriane Roby, announced Thursday.

The decision follows Gov. Whitmer’s executive order last week allowing organized sports to resume across Michigan, and the Michigan High School Athletic Association's (MHSAA) subsequent reinstatement of high school football for the fall across the state.

“After careful consideration with feedback from students, parents, coaches, and Grand Rapids Board of Education members, I am pleased to announce that all fall sports will resume with strict safety measures in place,” Roby said in a letter to parents, guardians, and staff.

“Our student athletes have been practicing voluntarily throughout the summer with safety protocols and health screenings. Golf, tennis, and cross country have already been in competition,” she continued. “In accordance with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent executive order, effective immediately, football, soccer, volleyball, swimming, and sideline cheer will also resume.”

GRPS will follow Whitmer’s order and the MHSAA’s guidelines, which limit spectators for indoor organized sports to two guests per athlete. For outdoor sports competitions, the number of spectators are limited to two guests per athlete, or a total attendance of 100 people.

“Both home and visiting spectators will be limited to parents and guardians only at this time for all home events,” said Roby, giving specifics to GRPS' enforcement of the order.

There will also be no admission fees, nor available concessions, at this time.

More fall sports guidelines and expectations for students, coaches, and the general public will be available on GRPS’ website.


Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities reopening this month, reschedules Girls Rock! Grand Rapids camp

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities (GAAH) is reopening its Cook Arts Center and Cook Library Center at the end of this month, it announced Thursday.

Its centers, which offer art and educational programs for K-12th grade students on Grand Rapids’ southwest side, have been closed much of the year due to the pandemic. They’ll now reopen for classes on Sept. 21.

GAAH has come up with a variety of three-week classes, all running Sept. 21 through Oct. 9. Safety measures will be in place, with limited capacity for the classes.

Programming at the Cook Library Center will be focused on academic support, social and emotional learning, and movement!” GAAH said in its newsletter.

Enrollment for the classes began this week, with GAAH providing an online Registration Form.

GAAH also announced that its previously postponed Girls Rock! Grand Rapids (GR!GR) camp is now scheduled for Dec. 14-20. More details will be available on GR!GR’s website.


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