GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new nonprofit that aims to undo the impacts of systemic racism and inequitable drug policies in Grand Rapids is seeking residents to join its board.
Seeding Justice Grand Rapids is an independent organization created as part of Grand Rapids’ cannabis social equity program, according to a Wednesday news release from the city. The nonprofit will implement data-backed strategies in Grand Rapids to help reverse the negative impacts of war on drug policies. It is funded by local cannabis businesses.
Ciarra C. Adkins, equity systems manager for the city of Grand Rapids, told News 8 that the war on drugs negatively impacted people in areas like housing and education.
“We’re just really open to looking at historically, what has happened in all of these generations, and how can we try and right those wrongs and support the people who are still in our city?” Adkins said.
“We would be open to seeing programming (from SJGR) that maybe is helping out students who — maybe (students) didn’t receive (federal student aid) because they had a criminal conviction around cannabis. Or maybe they were kicked out of school or not admitted because of cannabis-related offenses,” Adkins said. “We know some families lost their housing vouchers because of cannabis or drug offenses and things like that.”
Although the city will ensure that SJGR is funded and serve as a liaison, the nonprofit will “have the autonomy to be free and really listen to the community,” Adkins told News 8.
SJGR seeks eight people who are invested in equity and knowledgeable about war on drug policies to join its board. The organization wants the board to “reflect the diversity of persons disproportionately targeted and harmed by the war on drugs,” according to the release.
“We want folks who are passionate about equity. We want people who have a lens for social justice,” Adkins said. “We really want to have relationship building. This nonprofit has to work so closely with the community — there has to be a lot of trust.”
Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have lived in the city of Grand Rapids for at least seven years. They cannot have financial interests in the cannabis industry. A longer list of eligibility requirements can be found on the application form.
Applications are due June 6. The current SJGR board, which includes Mayor Rosalynn Bliss in the role of secretary, will review applications June 8.