2020 Annual Report

The year 2020 has been challenging, but more so for the African American and Latinx communities. Disparities that have been plaguing them for decades have been intensified by recent events. KConnect was built to uncover and address these disparities. We have continued to develop strategies that work toward improving outcomes for children and families.
Salvador Lopez, President

A Letter From Our New President

Hello! For those of you who have not met me yet, my name is Salvador Lopez, and I’m excited to be the new KConnect President. I started in late September and have enjoyed my time meeting network partners, learning about the work that has been done, and imagining what the future of KConnect will look like. 

It’s time that we start pushing the envelope. We need to acknowledge the data, and work towards eliminating disparities that affect our children; more specifically children from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. COVID-19 has compounded and brought to light long-standing inequities that children, not unlike myself, have experienced for decades. My hope is that I can build on the strong foundation that is here, reinvigorate our focus on community engagement and equity and inclusion, and continue to develop strategies that change outcomes for children across the prenatal to career continuum. 

Photo by Isabel Garcia

Equity in COVID-19

KConnect is emphasizing the role that equity – or the historical absence of equity – is playing in the crisis that is currently underway, and to compel all of us – individuals, organizations, and systems – to recognize that with the present pain also comes an opportunity to reset structures and systems with authenticity and intentional design that rejects a blanket universal approach and rather takes into consideration the unique needs of populations.

To gain a deeper understanding of the impact of COVID-19, we convened a panel of experts in a variety of roles in our community: Micah Foster PA-C (Grand Rapids African American Health Institute), Dr. Brandy Lovelady Mitchell (Kent Intermediate School District), Dr. Juan Olivarez (Johnson Center for Philanthropy) and Paul Doyle (Inclusive Performance Strategies).

Housing

Housing instability is a long-standing problem in Kent County. To combat this issue, numerous cross-sector stakeholders in the community, with KConnect as a facilitator and project manager,
came together for nearly two years to create a Common Agenda and Roadmap for housing stability.

KConnect facilitated and acted as the project manager for the process. The energy and momentum behind this process turned it into a genuine movement with the creation of the Housing Stability Alliance, a network that has a clear commitment to addressing systemic issues in housing stability, racial and ethnic disparities, and barriers to cohesive collaboration.

Birth Equity

In 2018, the Prenatal to 3rd Grade Workgroup developed a two-part strategy that positively affects both the prenatal and career areas of KConnect’s continuum.

The goal is to increase the likelihood of women of color to have a baby that is over 5.5 pounds. Research shows that receiving doula services is directly related to improved birth outcomes. Improving these outcomes overall and closing the disparity gap helps put a child on the path to economic prosperity from day one.

Since 2018, the PN3 Workgroup and Birth Equity Align and Design Team have been working to develop the strategy and launch the pilot. In mid-2020, the Day One Doula Collective hired its first Program Manager, Kiara Baskin.

Photo by Kiara Baskin, Day One Doula Collective

Looking for More?

To read the full articles, see our report card, and network member listings, download the full PDF report below.