The MyGRcitypoints website adds new features

What began almost two years ago as an online program where people could earn rewards for recycling has now entered phase two. The City of Grand Rapids' website has recently added two new two features that let people earn points and get involved in their communities.

The first new feature encourages people to volunteer with the incentive to earn rewards for their actions. The way it works is residents sign up for an account on the site and then volunteer for one of the featured opportunities. Afterward, they earn points that can later be redeemed for discounts on restaurants, services, and retail purchases.

Local First currently partners with the City to find area businesses to join the rewards program and now, the Heart of West Michigan United Way is partnering with the City to coordinate this new volunteer program. United Way already has its own Volunteer Center site with several hundred volunteer opportunities listed, and that will be used in conjunction with the MyGRcitypoints site.

The second new feature on promotes involvement in the community by highlighting different campaigns. The first campaign is called Park Makeover and it will benefit the Parks Alive program of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

With this campaign, users vote by donating their volunteer or recycling points for their favorite City owned park. The park that gets the most points will earn a park makeover worth up to $50,000. Two runners-up will each earn $10,000 park spruce-ups.

The City of Grand Rapids is sponsoring this first campaign and using money from a minor capital improvement fund. The money is allocated to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks anyhow, but with the Park Makeover campaign, people in the community get to decide which parks will benefit from the money.

Phase one of the MyGRcitypoints program was developed to encourage recycling in the City limits. There are now around 10,000 users and the program has increased recycling by 80 percent. This new second phase is open to anyone in West Michigan, and not just City residents.

City Manager Greg Sundstrom says the key with phase two of MyGRcitypoints is not so much about earning points, but instead about "keeping local dollars local and building communities." He believes these two actions are important for our city's future.

More volunteer opportunities and new campaigns will be added to the site soon. Sundstrom acknowledges that they don't have everything fully figured out yet and that's why they wanted to start with one campaign and limited volunteer opportunities.

"But we are one of the first communities to do this and that sets Grand Rapids apart from other cities," he says. "It's kind of a radical idea."

The City is open to suggestions for the site and ideas for future campaigns that will motivate people to get involved in the community.

"All we've done is build the platform," says Sundstrom. "Others can now help figure out what to do with it."

If you'd like to earn rewards for your volunteer or recycling efforts, or participate in the Park Makeover campaign, here's how to get involved:

-    Visit MyGRcitypoints online to find out more.
-    Sign up to start earning points.
-    Contribute any points you already have to your favorite Grand Rapids Park in the Parks Makeover campaign.
-    Volunteer to earn points.
-    If your nonprofit needs volunteers, fill out this form.
-    If your business wants to donate a reward, fill out this form.
-    If you are interested in starting a new campaign, contact Project Manager Jasmine Olsen.
-    Like MyGRcitypoints on Facebook
-    Follow @myGRcitypoints on Twitter.

Source: Greg Sundstrom, Grand Rapids City Manager
Writer: Heidi Stukkie, Do Good Editor

Logo provided by the City of Grand Rapids.
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