Community Research Institute at the Johnson Center

We can help you put data to work.

The Johnson Center’s Community Research Institute offers a guiding approach and a variety of trusted research tools. Since 2001, we have equipped more than 200 organizations and community groups to use data for effective philanthropy and informed community change.

If your organization or group is new to using data, we can introduce you to good practices and tools that make it easier to sustain data-driven projects. If you are looking to go further with data to plan an initiative, track community indicators, or present original research to your community, we can provide consultation, platforms to collect and analyze data, training, and more.


Interactive Tools for Using Data

Data offers a powerful way to better understand your neighborhood, plan for your community’s future, give more effectively, or evaluate what’s working in your organization’s grantmaking strategies. But making sense of data and using it in planning, grantwriting, and more is not always easy.

That’s why we created a series of tools to help close the gap between the data that community members need and the change that they are working to make. These tools include data from government agencies, local organizations, community members, educational institutions, health systems, and other sources.

Community Profiles

A look into Michigan counties, cities and neighborhoods to show key demographic, housing, economic and other important data.

Community Profiles 2.0

A deeper dive into key demographic, housing, economic and other important data through interactive mapping, customized charts, and access to data for any customized user-defined neighborhood.

VoiceGR / VoiceKent

VoiceGR/VoiceKent is an evolving community survey, designed uniquely to connect demographics with opinions and perceptions of greater Grand Rapids area residents.

MI-School.net

Michigan’s traditional, charter, and private school performance data is integrated with community-level population, crime, economic, and health data.


Not sure how to get started?
Request a consultation.

Online Tools

  • LearnPhilanthropy

    A marketplace of knowledge, tools, and connections for newcomers. Navigate the field, learn with peers and thought leaders, and improve your grant making.

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  • Our State of Generosity

    An online platform to share Michigan’s philanthropic history. Discover milestones that made the state a leader, and get tools for effective philanthropy.

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  • Community Profiles 2.0

    Explore housing and economics data in Grand Rapids with this interactive mapping and demographic snapshot tool.

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  • VoiceKent & VoiceGR

    An annual community survey designed uniquely to connect demographics with opinions and perceptions of Grand Rapids and Kent County residents.

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Johnson Center Blog

  • Change Can Start Anywhere. It’s Up to Philanthropy to Get Onboard.

    Change Can Start Anywhere. It’s Up to Philanthropy to Get Onboard. by Dennis McMillian Living in Alaska these past twenty-six years, I discovered it’s a good laboratory for social innovation. While Alaska covers a large area — 20 percent the size of the rest of the country — it’s possible

  • Photo: Two women standing side by side wearing "volunteer" t-shirts

    Local Action: Philanthropy’s Answer to “Where Do I Start?”

    Local Action: Philanthropy’s Answer to “Where Do I Start?” by Tory Martin There are countless organizations dedicated to helping individuals begin their philanthropic journeys. Sites like VolunteerMatch and DonorsChoose make taking action simple and fast, while national programs like Teach for America, City Year, and AmeriCorps provide immersive experiences on

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