Grand Valley State University
510 Eberhard Center
301 W. Fulton St.
Grand Rapids, MI  49504
Ph. 616-331-6706


Clayton Pelon


Groundswell serves schools in Kent County, a culturally and economically diverse area. Within its borders, the county contains more than 600,000 residents, the state’s second-largest city (Grand Rapids), and 856 square miles of land. Kent County is replete with resources, but it also has many environmental concerns that affect residents’ quality of life. These concerns have sparked a growing interest in environmentalism and inspired the formation of countless partnerships and initiatives focused on Kent County’s specific environmental needs.

Groundswell’s goal is to inspire Kent County students in grades 6–12 to become lifelong environmental stewards. Our primary vehicle for inspiring students is placebased, service learning, which emphasizes young voices, active and meaningful stewardship, and a strong connection to the curriculum. 

Groundswell is committed to creating and maintaining a strong coalition of dedicated and skilled community partners and teachers who are eager to collaborate with students. The hub offers a program of sustained professional development to a cohort of teachers from both public and private schools in rural, suburban, and urban settings. Through this program, teachers learn valuable content, network with colleagues, and are provided planning time to develop rigorous stewardship projects. Our teachers are given the opportunity to submit proposals to Groundswell to fund the stewardship efforts of their students. Funded projects require that: 

  • The work is connected to curriculum standards
  • The work addresses a community stewardship need or issue
  • Students have a voice in the direction of the work
  • The school’s project involves collaborative work with one or more community partners

Groundswell strengthens the connections between schools, partners, and the wider community through Dinner and Dialogue events, student showcases, and participation in various community activities. It maintains an active and voluntary coalition of partners through an intentional, collaborative organizational structure, which includes a governing board and working committees.