We are an African collaborative, purposely engaging in advocacy, dialogues and partnerships to provide access to resources and opportunities for the African community within the Greater Grand Rapids area. We want to see a united and engaged African community as empowered stakeholders, contributing to cultural, social, and economic development.
Brief overview of African Collaborative Network (ACN)
Umoja, emphasizing unity in families and communities, mirrors the African proverb, "I AM because WE ARE."
The African Collaborative Network (ACN) is an assembly of African professionals working to:
Spotlight the burgeoning professional class in West Michigan, going beyond the immigrant category often associated with Africans.
Encourage African community involvement in Grand Rapids' social, economic, and political spheres – including city commission meetings, boards, and participation in entities like the Chamber of Commerce.
Foster collaboration among African associations for shared goals like education access and cultural awareness.
Advocate for key issues concerning the broader African community.
Operate with a working board, where members contribute time, resources, and expertise to the ACN's initiatives.
Provide a safe and empowering environment for African immigrants from diverse backgrounds to voice their concerns and develop solutions.
ACN's support mechanisms for the African community include:
i. Community organizing - inviting immigrants to partake in events for awareness and fundraising.
ii. Advocacy - offering network connections and platforms for African immigrants to voice their needs to influential community leaders.
iii. Enterprise - providing support for entrepreneurial ventures, including patronizing businesses, supplying resources for start-ups, and unveiling new income avenues.
iv. Engagement - informing the community about public board seats, city meetings, etc., where they can participate and make their voices heard.
Systemic inequities that ACN hopes to address:
✓ Access to Information
✓ Access to places/environments of influence within the city (visibility)
✓ Access to adult education ( retraining to new skills that are relevant to the community, or retooling of old skills) and child education (better understanding of barriers to good educational outcomes)
✓ Legal counsel ( few legal experts who understand immigrant societies, and hence how to represent them or educate them to the laws of the land).