2022 Impact Report

The last two years have exacerbated what was already a reality for too many families and communities in Kent County: a lack of livable wage employment and access to capital for business ownership, a lack of affordable childcare, and no access to safe and stable housing for families. The systemic racism that causes these realities and outcomes creates nonstop pressure and widens disparity gaps between White and BIPOC communities. We cannot adequately address these inequities in silos; it will take all of us working together to affect change. 

Salvador Lopez, President

A Letter From Our President

KConnect has had a busy year. We launched Housing Kent, a Collective Impact organization focused on creating equitable outcomes for children and families of color experiencing housing instability. We re-invigorated our core workgroups and met one-on-one with key stakeholders to better understand how we can support the network in the upcoming year. We also developed and implemented a variety of strategies, which you will learn about.

Using a systemic lens, we are focused on working and collaborating closely with local, state, and national organizations to build capacity around equity, data, and facilitation here in Kent County. By working with population-level conveners, such as the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, we are able to develop system-level approaches to close disparity gaps while receiving input from the community through a trusted partner. For example, our work this year has culminated in the development of a Spanish-language data dashboard that will track the data points that are most applicable to the local Latinx community. It’s also led us to work closely with Day One Doula, an initiative created from the Healthy Birth strategy which originated from the PN3 workgroup, to develop their capacity to launch an independent organization.

Diversifying the Teacher Pipeline

An analysis by KConnect of staffing information on MiSchoolData found that currently half of all districts (traditional & charter) and nearly 2/3rds of all school buildings report having no Black teachers. Over 30% of districts and 64% of buildings in Kent County report having no Hispanic teachers. (MI School Data, 2022).

As the 4th-12th Grade Workgroup considered these gaps, they identified the initial goal of having the racial and ethnic demographics of the educator workforce match that of the county. Currently, about 31% of Kent County residents identify as people of color. Our aim is to have the educator workforce comprised of at least 31% people of color. To close the gap in Kent County, we would need to hire 2,175 educators of color. This includes approximately 586 Black educators and about 775 Latinx educators. (KConnect, 2022).

Because our educator workforce is predominately White, many of our students go through their entire K-12 education experience without ever having an educator of color.

Spanish-language Dashboard

There is a consistent absence of representation of the Latinx community in local data because of non-inclusive data collection. The result is that resources and programming are currently distributed with limited knowledge of the realities of the Latinx community in Kent County. 

To combat this inequity, KConnect convened cross-sector partners to begin working on developing a Spanish-language Dashboard in our community.

Data Report Card

The KConnect network, supported by the backbone organization, works to eliminate disparities and improve outcomes for all.

KConnect is data-informed, which means we use disaggregated data to track and evaluate trends and develop strategies that address the disparities we see in our community. Across all eight success measures we see a significant gap between White residents and Black and Brown residents.

Looking for More?

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