Last updated: October 23, 2019

RCE Grand Rapids

Photo Credit: RCE Grand Rapids
Rce details
United States of America
Date of RCE acknowledgement:
January, 2007
Description of RCE and Geographic Region:

RCE Grand Rapids, formed and authorised in 2007, is a multi-sectoral partnership that includes local government, higher education and business. We are formed as a division of the Community Sustainability Partnership with currently over 280 members from our West Michigan area. Members of the Grand Rapids RCE Leadership Team have participated regularly in global and regional RCE conferences and hosted the Americas Conference in 2015 in Grand Rapids.

Goals and Objectives:


The vision of our RCE is to advance education for sustainable development throughout our West Michigan region while adding value to the global conversation about ESD through participation in the Global Action Plan. Our RCE and Community Sustainability Partnership (CSP) have been responsible for starting seven other CSPs in West Michigan and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and three US CSPs outside of the state of Michigan.

Organisation Hosting RCE Secretariat:
Key Partners:
Organisation: Grand Valley State University
Role: Academic Institute of Higher Learning
Main Contact: Norman Christopher
Organisation: Michigan State University
Role: Academic Institute of Higher Learning
Main Contact: Ann Erhardt
Organisation: Calvin College
Role: Academic Institute of Higher Learning
Main Contact: Gail Heffner
Organisation: Kendall College of Art and Design
Role: Academic Institution of Higher Learning
Main Contact: Gayle DeBruyn
Organisation: Aquinas College
Role: Academic Institute of Higher Learning
Main Contact: Mike Lorr
Organisation: Western Michigan University
Role: Academic Institue of Higher Learning
Main Contact: Roxanne Buhl
Organisation: Grand Rapids Community College
Role: Academic Institute of Higher Learning
Main Contact: Sara Yob
Organisation: Grand Rapids Public Schools
Role: Public K-12 Education
Main Contact: Ryan Huppert
Organisation: Hope College
Role: Academic Institue of Higher Learning
Main Contact: Michelle Gibbs
Organisation: Catalyst Partners
Role: Private Sector Business
Main Contact: Keith Winn
Organisation: City of Grand Rapids
Role: Local Government
Main Contact: Alison Sutter
Current Activities:

RCE Grand Rapids conducts numerous education for sustainable development activities in the following areas:

  • Re-orienting education towards sustainable development;
  • Increasing access to quality basic education;
  • Delivering training programmes; and
  • Leading advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns.
Upcoming Activities:

RCE Partner City of Grand Rapids began construction on a $30 MM biodigester at the wastewater treatment plant. Methane gas produced will be used to generate electric power adequate to run the treatment facility. The City hired a new Sustainability Director. Plans are in place to re-lamp the 19,000 street lights in the city with LED lamp-heads. This $20 MM project will begin in 2018.

RCE partner Kendall College of Art and Design hosted the 2017 Wege Prize, "Wicked Problems of Sustainability". 125 individuals participated, representing 17 different countries, 38 academic institutions and 84 unique academic disciplines. Of the five teams named finalists, two were all undergraduate, two all graduate and one mixed graduate and undergraduate. The winning team consisted of students from University of Michigan and Brown University and focused on the conversion of organic waste from food and beverage processing to insect-based protein used as animal feed. Second place team represented Autonomous University of Nicaragua and Kendall College of Art and Design and third place represented students from four colleges within the University of Michigan.

RCE partner Aquinas College is focusing on cooperatives. Professor Lorr is working with undergraduate students to understand the concept of cooperatives (not common to this region) and has visited cooperative in Spain and Ireland.

RCE Partner Calvin College continues its work of watershed restoration through Plaster Creek Stewards (PCS). This highly collaborative program involves faculty, students and local schools, houses of worship and community organisations. Receiving $2.3 MM in grants from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and funding from US Environmental Protection Agency, PCS works with at-risk students to reforest and plant native plants in the watershed and learn about watershed ecology. In partnership with City of Grand Rapids, PCS installed over 40 curb-cut rain gardens for stormwater management.

RCE partner Grand Valley State University (GVSU) works in a low income neighborhood of Grand Rapids through Seeds of Promise. This resident empowerment program has engaged over 4,800 individuals and organisations in neighbourhood planning and economic development. It oversaw $700,000 of direct economic impact, created 50 new jobs for residents, and surveyed over 6,000 residential homes using GIS and GPS mapping through the University's Sustainable Planning and Geography Department. With assistance from GVSU School of Nursing, the Browning Claytor Health Clinic experienced a 35% patient increase. Seeds of Promise provided a book chapter to the UNU-IAS on community-based health services.

RCE Grand Rapids continues Youth Virtual Conferences (YVC), bringing secondary school children from North, South and Central America, Europe and Africa together in real time/virtual space for peer education on sustainability. This innovation, organised by Grand Rapids Public Schools and Grand Valley State University covered topics of energy, water, food systems and, scheduled for 2018, climate change. Students present their context-based research on the topic, raise questions and hold discussions using Blackboard technology. RCE Minna, Nigeria, worked with us to host a continent-wide YVC in Africa.

RCE Grand Rapids co-hosted a conference on circular economies.

Communication Channels
RCE Website:
Facebook page:
Twitter handle:
YouTube page:
Contact Details
Main RCE Contact:
Gayle DeBruyn, Professor, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University
Secondary RCE Contact:
Sharon Munski
RCE Youth Coordinator(s):
Ryan Huppert
General RCE email:
RCE mailing address for correspondence:

Grand Valley State University, 1 Campus Drive, 260 Lake Michigan Hall, Allendale, MI 49401