MPWRD Business names Influential Awards nominees

The MPWRD Business Magazine Influential Awards recognize the Hispanic, Asian Pacific, Black and Indigenous Native Americans (HABI+) in our community that are shaping culture, community, business and humanity in Grand Rapids and West Michigan.

MPWRD Business Magazine and the Influential Awards were founded and are owned by Two Eagles Marcus, Tiwa Puebloan Indigenous Native American Pueblo of Taos, who also publishes Women’s LifeStyle Magazine.

“Grand Rapids has a diverse cultural and ethnic makeup that contributes to the economy and social fabric of our community and there are limited opportunities for recognition in media and awards events for Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific and Indigenous Native Americans and not one that includes all groups collectively,” Marcus said. “The sustainability of the United States and West Michigan economies are dependent on the economic development of Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific and Indigenous Native American populations in entrepreneurship and leadership. The time to recognize, support, encourage and invest in us is now.”

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Partners address homelessness

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost every aspect of American life, especially housing.

In July, 32% of U.S. households missed housing payments, according to a CNBC report published July 8. With federal eviction moratoriums ending soon, the pandemic is putting increasing stress on Americans at risk for homelessness. One analysis from the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project found 20% of 110 million renters are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30.

Organizations that address homelessness and the contributors of homelessness — such as income stabilization, job placement, education and other social determinants of health — are seeing more demand for their work than ever before. One of these organizations is Community Rebuilders in Grand Rapids.

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Teaching kids about the importance of healthy living through FitKids360 program

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) – The FitKids360 Program combines basic education about nutrition, behavior, and exercise with a wide range of physical activity to help kids develop healthy habits including eating better and becoming more active! This program is a childhood obesity intervention program that benefits hundreds of children and their families to create a better version of themselves. In order to participate in this program, children must be ages 5 to 17 years old, have a BMI at or above the 85th percentile, be referred by a physician or healthcare provider, and a parent/guardian must accompany the child to each class. Not only is the child developing these healthy habits, but the parents and siblings are as well. The program teaches families on the importance of exercise, proper nutrients, and taking care of their behavioral and emotional well-being. It’s a program that exemplifies mind, body, and soul! Read more

Change-Ups: Dipiazzo joins Chow Hound as CMO

Health Net of West Michigan has received a $270,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to expand existing equity efforts, including adding additional health equity training for Health Net staff working with families to access early childhood resources, completion of an equity-focused strategic plan, revision of policy and training for board members.

“We Must Do More” A message from Health Net’s Executive Director, Maureen Kirkwood

We are all living through a global pandemic, while at the same time the epidemic of government-sanctioned police violence against Black people continues. Health Net of West Michigan’s vision is to create a community where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This focus on health equity is core to our work; because of this, we add our voice to those of our many partners who are denouncing the unjust and oppressive systems that allow racism to flourish in our community.

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Michigan Health Endowment Fund awards $5.3M to community health initiatives

LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) – The Michigan Health Endowment Fund (Health Fund) announced today that it will support 70 health projects and capacity building efforts across the state with a total of $5.3 million in new investments. Nonprofits, universities, and government agencies statewide will receive grants ranging from $15,600 to $100,000 under the Health Fund’s Community Health Impact grant program. (See a full list of grant recipients at the bottom of this release.)

“This program is about supporting the health of Michigan communities, collaborating around improved access to services, and building organizational capacities,” said Megan Murphy, senior program officer. “We can’t wait to see how these organizations help move their communities toward more sustainable health outcomes.”

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Street Talk: Staying safe at home

While Michigan residents have been urged to stay home and stay safe, staying safe at home has taken a broader meaning for the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan. While traditionally laser-focused on the issue of lead and other pollutants in people’s homes, the nonprofit has spread out to address all issues of home safety.

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Youth drop-in center HQ evolves with commitments to local partnerships and expansion of services

HQ is a drop-in center for youth who don’t have a safe place to call home, are sleeping outside, or just need a safe place to connect with caring adults. This center is a free resource for youth ages 14 to 24 in housing crisis.

HQ partners with The Wisdom Center Counseling ServicesHealth Net of West Michigan, and Grand Valley Family Health Center to constantly improve their services and meet the health and wellness needs of local youth in crisis.

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By Leaps & Bounds: Prenatal Care & Social Determinants of Low Birth Weight

Receiving early and regular care throughout pregnancy is incredibly important for both mother and baby, as preterm birth and low birth weight put babies at an increased risk of developing cognitive, emotional, and physical health issues. Babies weighing above 5.5 pounds at birth are considered to be “born healthy.”

Across Michigan, about 8.5% of babies are born underweight (CDC), and communities of color are disproportionally impacted with rates for black and Latinx moms at a six-year high. Recognizing the need to create paths to overcoming the social determinants of health, local programs are supporting moms to improve these outcomes for babies.

Courtney Hilbert, CNM, MSN, Director of APP Services for Women’s Health and Chair of the Centering Pregnancy Program at Spectrum Health, and Kiara Baskin, Founder and CEO of Bump to Birth Doula Services are here to discuss. For more information, visit: , or

West Michigan Works – Shelley Irwin

West Michigan Works, recognized 10 area service workers with the 2019 Beverly A Drake Essential Service Awards, speaking on TMS to those involved.