Imagine More

When parents can see the most realistic and promising future career paths for their children and teens, they can support them as they access the post-high school training, education, introductions, and internships needed for success in work and life.

Workforce Opportunity in West Michigan

While the economy in West Michigan is strong, we face two big challenges:

  • labor shortages in key sectors
  • invisibility of careers and preparation pathways to emerging workers

Building a bridge to solve both challenges… to make the economy visible and fill open positions… is at the heart of West Michigan’s economic future.

Pathways to Prosperity

Aimed at connecting students and their parents to potential career opportunities, higher education, job training, local internships, and employer introductions in Greater Grand Rapids, Imagine More is a community-wide public awareness campaign and information platform.

PRE-2000

  • Predictable career options
  • Clear career pathways
  • Robust apprenticeship opportunities
  • Helpful career counseling in schools
  • Ample opportunity without
    post-secondary education

TODAY

  • Constantly changing career options
  • Invisible career pathways
  • Rare apprenticeship opportunities
  • Minimal to no career counseling in schools
  • Fewer opportunities without
    post-secondary education

Today, a streamlined economy, advances in technology, and growing global trade are shifting the talent landscape – altering the range of jobs available, calling for a new kind of worker, creating a new kind of opportunity. But for many young people seeking a place in the new economy, a combination of insufficient career preparation and lack of career information are barriers too great to overcome creating an opportunity gap.

Important Insights

For many, Greater Grand Rapids is a land of opportunity, rich with education and income opportunities. For others, it is a barren desert, devoid of any real paths toward self-sufficiency.

While young people in affluent sectors of Greater Grand Rapids find pathways to adult success through their suburban schools, their parents, their relatives, and their church and family networks, youth in other neighborhoods trying to work their way forward find none of the same routes open to them. Instead, even those with high school degrees often find themselves at the crossroads of education and employment without sufficient access, information or opportunity to move forward in either direction.

Yet the youth at the crossroads represent just as much talent and potential for the future workforce as their better-situated peers. They want to learn skills, work hard, and contribute to an employer’s bottom line. They want to build competencies, demonstrate value, and grow in their careers. They want desperately to contribute to the future of their community. They want desperately to fulfill their purpose in the world.

It’s time for the Greater Grand Rapids community to #ImagineMore: for our youth, for our employers, and for our shared future prosperity.

Expert Resources

  • Strategic framework: Chaná Edmond-Verley, Believe 2 Become
  • Research: Ronald F. Ferguson, Ph.D., Harvard University and Peter Bergman, Ph.D., Columbia University
  • Local business advisors: Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, ASCET, MiWorks, Groundwork Consulting, GRCC, Kent ISD, Talent 2025, The Right Place