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Most residents give Grand Rapids grade of A or B, study says

  • Johnson Center Executive Director Kyle Caldwell

Posted on March 03, 2016

A new study released by the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley shows more than 80 percent of Grand Rapids area residents would give the city an overall grade of "A" or "B" as a place to live, but ratings varied widely based on home location, race, education and poverty level.

The study is based on the results of the 2015 VoiceGR survey conducted by the Johnson Center last fall. The survey asked area residents questions about the city, safety, work, health care, economy, ability to meet basic needs and more.

A full breakdown of the study results were explained at a data summit on Thursday, March 3. Several city and nonprofit leaders, including Grand Valley President Tom Haas, participated in the presentation of study results.

Online results, including visualization tools, are available here:

Fifty-four percent of survey respondents said they felt racism was "very much" an issue in the U.S. as a whole, but only 15 percent felt it was "very much" an issue in their neighborhood.

The study also showed that a slightly lower percentage of city residents reported not being able to meet their basic needs (21 percent) compared to 2014 (24 percent). Of those who indicated not being able to meet basic needs, 14 percent were employed full time, 21 percent were employed part time, and 29 percent were unemployed, which suggests that employment alone does not always provide relief from poverty.

Other key findings from the study include:

- 63 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that schools in the community are committed to building each child's strengths.   

- Residents near or below the poverty line were more likely to report having chronic health conditions (anxiety, depression, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, lead poisoning and ADD/ADHD).

The 2015 VoiceGR survey was conducted both through paper and online administration. Paper surveys were collected at community events and in conjunction with community organizations. Data collection started June 20, 2015 and concluded November 15, 2015.

For more information, visit