VoiceGR is a community survey that aims to assess greater Grand Rapids residents’ attitudes, perceptions, and opinions. The primary goal of VoiceGR is to provide objective data to residents, nonprofits, governments, businesses, and other decision makers regarding the perceptions and needs of the community. The hope is to provide easily accessible data to inform decisions. A key to making informed decisions is disaggregating data. Disaggregation refers to splitting results as a whole into their subgroups, such as splitting by racial/ethnic groups or genders to look for differences between groups. If we only look at whole city or county level survey results, we fail to see the diversity in the experiences and perceptions of the various subgroups of the population.

2015 VoiceGR survey responses were collected between June 2015 and November 2015. The Community Research Institute selects a core group of questions to ask each year and also partners with a select number of local nonprofit organizations to include questions that they are interested in. To view all of the questions asked on the survey, view the 2015 VoiceGR survey. For 2015, VoiceGR responses were collected using mixed methods – paper surveys collected at community events and online surveys distributed in a variety of ways. To learn more, view the VoiceGR methodology.

To explore the 2015 VoiceGR survey results, check out our Tableau Public viz tool, interactive mapping tool, and data visualization tool. All three data tools will allow for information to be presented in various disaggregated levels including race/ethnicity, gender, education level, and geography. To view and explore key highlights from the 2015 results, click on Selected Highlights.


Use this tool to view and interact with selected highlights of the VoiceGR 2015 survey results.

Use this tool to interact with data in stacked bar charts and disaggregate all survey results by demographics.

Use this tool to map data and disaggregate survey results by demographic filters.

Use this tool to interact with data in a divergent bar chart and disaggregate some survey results by demographics.

Key Findings

  • Similar to 2014, over 80% of greater Grand Rapids area residents gave the city a grade of A or B as a place to live in 2015. This rating continues to vary based on home location, race, and education, and poverty level.
  • Residents noted top strengths of their neighborhoods were the community or people (such as sense of community, people being friendly, welcoming, inclusive, and diverse), and location and infrastructure (such as accessibility to business/commerce, public/social services, parks/recreation, good schools, development, and transportation).
  • Residents noted top issues of their neighborhoods as crime/safety, infrastructure (such as traffic and poor road conditions), and lack of community cohesion (such as homelessness/poverty, lack of diversity, and issues with neighbors).
  • The importance of community (both when it is good and when it is struggling) is noted through mentions in both the strengths and issues responses. 63% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that schools in this community are committed to building each child’s strengths.
  • 21% of greater Grand Rapids residents reported not being able to meet their basic needs in 2015 (this was 24% in 2014). Residents in the southeast area of the city rated their ability to meet basic needs lower than other areas of the city, with the lowest ability to meet basic needs reported in the Black Hills, Grandville, and Baxter neighborhoods and the highest in the North End, Northeast, and Michigan Oaks neighborhoods.
  • Of those who indicated that they couldn’t meet their basic needs, 14% were employed full time, 21% were employed part time, and 29% were unemployed, suggesting that employment alone is not a sole and immediate reliever of poverty.
  • Residents near or below the poverty line were more likely to report having chronic health conditions (including anxiety, depression, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, lead poisoning, and ADD/ADHD) for themselves and for their children than those above the poverty level. 54% of respondents indicated that they felt racism was “very much” an issue in the US as a whole, compared to only 15% who felt it was “very much” an issue in their neighborhood.
  • 15% of respondents reported feeling discriminated against in the greater Grand Rapids area monthly, weekly or daily in the last year (down from 33% last year). Of those, 52% indicated they felt their race/ethnicity was the main reason they felt discriminated against.

VoiceGR is a product of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

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