$75 – $250

2017 Community Spirit Awards and Empowered Communities Conference

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DeVos Place

303 Monroe Avenue Northwest

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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During the 2017 Community Spirit Awards and Empowered Communities Conference, LINC Up will be honoring individuals for the significant impact they have made in their community. We will bring together representatives from all sectors as well as resident leaders to participate in this two-day event.

The conference is based on LINC Up's holistic approach to neighborhood revitalization which focuses on expanding opportunities around, Who you know, What you know, Where you live, and What you make. LINC Up is founded on the premise that neighborhoods matter and we must link various community organization efforts together for sustainable change. Attendees of the conference will learn more about local policy, best practices, instructional resources and strategies to best help their communities thrive.

Featuring Conference Keynote Speaker - Shaun King

Shaun King | Senior Justice Writer for New York Daily News | Commentator for The Young Turks

Shaun King has written extensively about the Black Lives Matter movement, covering discrimination, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and social justice in the wake of violence in New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, Missouri, Charleston, South Carolina, and other cities. He is Senior Justice Writer at the New York Daily News, a regular political commentator for The Young Turks and on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, and was Justice Writer for Daily Kos.

As a social entrepreneur, King worked as the CEO and founder of both TwitChange (which won the Mashable Award for the Most Creative Social Good Campaign) and HopeMob, whose social media footprint grew to become one of the 10 largest of any charity. King is the author of The Power of 100!, and has spent much of the past 15 years raising nearly $10 million for charities and causes across the globe. King is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Epoch Humanitarian Award and the Hometown Hero Award from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He was also included in MSNBC’s The Grio Top 100 History Makers. Onstage, he draws from his oratorical skills developed, in part, from the fifteen years he spent as a local pastor.

Featuring Community Spirit Award Banquet Keynote Speaker - Alvin Herring

Alvin Herring is director of racial equity and community engagement at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, MI. Herring provides strategic oversight for the Racial Equity and Community Engagement team and grant portfolios related to racial equity, racial healing and community engagement that advance the foundation’s mission. On the enterprise level, he actively guides the integration of community engagement and racial equity into all aspects of the foundation’s national grantmaking strategy and place-based efforts in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans.

Prior to joining the foundation, Herring was the deputy director/senior leader at the PICO National Network. He also previously held positions as the executive director for the Working Interfaith Network in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; a community organizer for the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization in Richmond, California; the principal and lead consultant for Side By Side in Alameda, California; the executive director for the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice in Louisville, Kentucky; and was the dean of students/assistant vice president for student life at the University of Louisville.

Featuring Confernce Keynote Speaker - Monica Andrade

Monica Andrade, J.D. has been actively involved in advocating for immigrants’ rights and the DREAMers movement for over ten years. In doing so, she has advocated for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children, brought to the U.S. by their parents. Monica is currently a Skadden Legal Fellow with the ACLU of Michigan, where she advocates for and protects the civil rights of the immigrant community harmed by the Flint water crisis.

During law school, Monica interned for Justice Bridget Mary McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court. She was also a summer fellow at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau where she represented indigent clients who were being evicted from public, subsidized, and private housing, and worked with tenant unions and other progressive organizations to ensure the availability of affordable housing in the Greater Boston area. She is also the former National Vice President of the Hispanic National Bar Association Law Student Division.

About the Conference

Police and Community Relations

The conference will provide participants with opportunities to hear from legal experts and social justice advocates with historical knowledge of the root causes of the troubled relationship between police officers and people of color. These individuals also possess a comprehensive understanding of the systemic issues of racism and racial inequity within the American justice system that perpetuate the implementation of misguided criminal justice policy.

Environmental Justice

The conference will allow participants to connect with organizations and individuals to strengthen the impact of their Environmental Justice work by identifying best practices and building on the strength of successful environmental campaigns. Local and regional environmentalists (and advocates) will facilitate workshops on Vapor Intrusion, Lead Poisoning, Water Pollution, and more. The facilitators will also discuss how low-income individuals and communities of color are disproportionately bearing the burden of harmful environmental policies that are not written within an equity driven framework.

Economic Development

During the conference participants will have the opportunity to learn from local, regional, and statewide organizations on topics of workforce development, capacity building programming, and fostering entrepreneurship. Additionally, representatives from banking institutions will facilitate workshops developed to teach community members the importance of investing, building credit, home ownership, and saving to build a financially stable future.

Community Development and Advocacy

During the conference attendees will engage in workshops designed to enhance their awareness of the connectivity between policy and activism. Participants will learn about the legal framework within which they can safely navigate through political and social advocacy campaigns, and they will receive information that will help them think systematically about policy solutions. Participants will walk away with useful tools and concrete steps that will help them raise awareness of issues.

Housing Strategies (and Affordable Housing)

During the conference participants will learn about the necessity to develop a multi-pronged approach to development – one that includes collaboration among non-profit and for-profit developers, municipal participation and leadership, civic engagement, and increased wages – to stabilize housing costs and expand housing opportunities for all.

Event Schedule

Community Spirit Award Banquet - Thursday October 05, 2017 @ 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Reception - Thursday October 05, 207 @ 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Conference - Friday October 06, 2017 @ 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Workshop Offerings)

8:00 AM – 8:30 AM Registration

8:30 AM – 9:15 AM Welcome Plenary Session

9:30 AM – 10:45 AM Session 1

11:00 AM – 12:15 PM Session 2

12:15 PM – 12:45 PM LUNCH

12:45 PM – 1:30 PM Plenary Session – featuring Shaun King

1:45 PM – 3:00 PM Session 3

3:15 PM – 4:30 PM Session 4

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM Closing Session

***Registration Deadline is Friday, September 29, 2017***

Scholarships available for current Southtown residents, contact Sharonda@lincrev.org for details.


  • Parking is available in the parking lot located underneath DeVos Place - entrance located on Michigan Street ($1.50 per half hour, $15 daily maximum) or the Government Parking lot at 300 Monroe Ave NW ($1.25 per half hour, $12 daily maximum).

  • Street/Metered (enforcement: M - F, 8 AM - 5 PM) parking is available in the surrounding area.

  • See Map for details regarding other parking options or call The City of Grand Rapids Parking Services at 616-456-3290.

  • Visit the DASH website for information on the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) which is a “FREE bus service that provides Downtown workers and visitors with a convenient way to travel throughout the Downtown Grand Rapids area. Download the DASH Services Map (PDF).”

Thank you to our Sponsors


Spectrum Health Logo

Start Garden

Huntington, Welcome

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DeVos Place

303 Monroe Avenue Northwest

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event

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