Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell dedicated his entire state of the city speech Saturday morning to highlighting the problems facing kids in the community.
Heartwell noted nearly 2 in 5 children in Michigan's 2nd largest city live in poverty. More than 1 in 5 students in Grand Rapids Public Schools drops out of high school. Many don’t have regular access to the internet.
“I’m done waiting for somebody else somewhere else to figure this out. That's not the Grand Rapids way," Heartwell said. "We’re among the most innovative problem solvers in the world and we have the capacity to do this.”
Heartwell admits he usually loves to celebrate the great things happening in Grand Rapids in his state of the city speech (this was his 9th). "The truth is that this city in relative terms is so much stronger so much healthier than any city in Michigan and I think it can lull us into thinking that everything is ok. It's not," Heartwell said after the hour long speech.
The city, Kent County, Grand Rapids Public Schools and other organizations are plotting ways to improve the lives of children. Heartwell says community leaders are dedicated to tackling these tough problems because he says the future success of the city depends on it. He encouraged everyone in the audience of about 200 people to think about and act on ways they can help children in the community succeed.