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On The Ground



In a world of uncertainty & struggle, advocates give voice to parents and students

As families in the southeast side of Grand Rapids face difficulty accessing housing, meeting basic needs, and even fears of potential deportation, community leaders in the schools are working hard to provide them with resources and support. 

Herman Lee

'This city needs to wake up': The fight for affordable housing in Grand Rapids

Herman Lee moved to Grand Rapids in search of new opportunities and a chance to start again. After being faced with challenging barriers to affordable and stable housing, Lee shares his journey of finding a place to belong in the southeast community.


From hip-hop to Islam to oils: How a Madison Square entrepreneur launched his one-of-a-kind business

After a conversion to Islam, Faheem Nichols began selling oils and scents from his minivan parked on the corner of Eastern and Sherman. Now, 20 years later, what began as Nichols' side business has become West Michigan's first oils and fragrance café. 

Sharae Anderson

Fighting for life behind bars: West Michigan advocates work to reform prison system

In Michigan, close to 41,000 people are in prison. Sharae Anderson, a resident of the Madison Square neighborhood, shares how her experience of inhumane treatment at a correctional facility has inspired her to advocate for others.

Lisa Matthews with grandson

Racism in Grand Rapids: The cyclical fight against systemic oppression

Racist policies and biases continue to impede neighbors in the Madison Square community who are trying to gain equitable access to economic opportunities and health care. In spite of this, residents are empowering one another to fight the systemic oppression they are faced with every day.
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