Urban Innovation Exchange



Marcel Thibert and Jordan VerBerg seamlessly integrate message, medium, and talent to grow

Marcel Thibert and Jordan VerBerg are starting to notice that they've created their own market with Vizidef Display Technology, to which they supply the talent.

Lance Kraai, Shanna Greer, New City Neighbors sow community seeds for year-round harvest

Whether planting crops, watering or weeding, Kraai, farm director, and Greer, field manager, maintain New City Urban Farm prior to the arrival of student workers in early June. Kraai manages the operation year-round, spending long days in the trenches spring through ...

Author, athlete, inspiration Chris Sain, Jr. helps city youth

Chris Sain, Jr., a social innovator, educator, and mentor to Grand Rapids’ inner-city youth, credits God’s grace and guidance, along with a combination of book smarts, street smarts, and common sense, with helping him escape the hustle and hopelessness of ...

Joe Jones delivers social enterprise strategies to the inner city

How do you transform a 75-year-old organization to address some of the most complex inequalities in your community? Joe Jones believes he has the answer.

John and Shawn Tol know how to make a deal

Created by John and Shawn Tol, MI Deals for Charity allows visitors to purchase a deal outright, with a percentage of the full price going to a local charity of their choice or they can purchase the deal at a discount, with the charity receiving a smaller percentage of ...

Pat Evans and team are brewing up community pride

In our fair Beer City, USA there is a growing number of craft breweries, each with a loyal following stretching past where their bars end and the community begins, as Mitten Brewing's Pat Evans explains.
Feature Story

Raising a glass to people over products, collaboration over competiton

In the private and nonprofit sectors, a more human approach is called for: finding identity in how an organization can be useful to customers above the products they sell or the categories in which they compete.

Gayle DeBruyn: Helping solve wicked problems is a prize in itself

Gayle DeBruyn is assistant professor and chief sustainability officer at Kendall College of Art and Design, where the Wege Prize champions finding solutions to "those tangled problems of climate change, food security—challenges that many people have to come ...

Jordan O'Neil and team embrace the profound effects of failure

Jordan O'Neil, with Brian Dokter, Austin Dean, and Jonathan Williams, make up what is now the team behind Failure:Lab. They’re all on a mission, “to eliminate the fear of failure and encourage intelligent risk taking.”

Melvin Eledge and his Ambassadors lead the way through Grand Rapids

"You do a lot of walking around, and you're involved in making Grand Rapids a better city," Melvin Eledge says about the Grand Rapids Safety Ambassadors.
Feature Story

Let's spring forward and interact with each other

While UIX GR is only designed to cover one innovator and related project a week, we’re relying on every other resource we have at our disposal to facilitate more conversation.

Jenna Weiler and Ambrose are designing the blueprints for kids' careers

Two years ago, Jenna and Adam Weiler set out to turn their four-year after-school experiment into a brick-and-mortar social enterprise, a collaborative design and screen printing studio called Ambrose that seeks “to develop sustainable spaces where mentoring ...

Kafi Carrasco helps restore entrepreneurial roots to local neighborhood

The business mentoring program Spring GR is facilitated by Restorers, of which Kafi Carrasco is executive director, and is structured on the model of Partners Worldwide, where Rudy Carrasco is United States Regional Facilitator.

Jahaun McKinley, Keith Maki prove not all doors are closed after serving time behind bars

For someone leaving the prison system, the path to flourishing is clouded with myriad obstacles. Finding housing, securing employment, and adapting to new cultural expectations are just a few of these barriers.
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