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VoiceGR results show disparity in city rankings

Posted on March 14, 2014

New survey results from the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University show that many factors influence how favorably residents view life in Grand Rapids and in their neighborhoods. The study reveals important relationships between socioeconomic status, education, and income level as they relate to feelings about safety, poverty, and personal health. 

87 percent of respondents to the VoiceGR survey about the quality of life in the city of Grand Rapids said they would give the city an excellent or good rating, and 78 percent said the same for their individual neighborhoods within the city. However, results also suggest that demographic and personal resources greatly influenced the perceptions of individual demographic groups. 

Factors such as race/ethnicity, income, access to healthcare, housing, and ability to meet basic needs swayed the percentage of excellent and good ratings by as much as 16 percent in some cases. 

The study, which began collecting data in September, aims to help nonprofit, philanthropic and community organizations in West Michigan use their resources in the most effective manner possible. 

The 2013 VoiceGR survey factors in responses of more than 3,000 residents, and is intended to stimulate conversation on pertinent issues rather than repeating already available data on demographics. The survey is significant because it compares the perception of residents with census and demographic numbers to provide unique insight into different segments of the population and how different environmental factors affect each group. 

Full results from the survey are available online at along with a neighborhood-by-neighborhood map of the results.

The results will also be presented at the Community Research Summit on Friday, March 14, starting at 9 a.m. in the Loosemore Auditorium on Grand Valley’s downtown Pew Grand Rapids Campus. 

For more information, visit

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