Socialize at ArtPrize

Come be a part of the last annual ArtPrize before this event returns in 2020! Mix, Mingle, BL²END and support ArtPrize 10!

Socialize at ArtPrize

Come be a part of the last annual ArtPrize before this event returns in 2020! Mix, Mingle, BL²END and support ArtPrize 10!

Connect. Develop. Contribute.

Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions

BL²END was established in 2006 to increase the engagement and retention of young professionals of color in the Greater Grand Rapids community by holding monthly events that align with our strategic initiatives of Social Networking, Professional Development, and Community Outreach. As an organization, we believe in building genuine relationships through the values of collaboration, community, education, integrity, and professionalism.


Connect and build genuine relationships with other professionals in a welcoming, inclusive environment. Through the support of our local partnerships, our Social Networking BL²ENDers are hosted in the greater Grand Rapids area.


Develop and sharpen your professional skills while building your network at a our Professional Development events. Each program and presentation is customized for the young professional audience which covers a variety of current topics and applicable development opportunities.


Contribute to local organizations through a wide-range of Community Outreach events. BL²END strategically partners to support the initiatives of nonprofits in the Grand Rapids area by providing volunteer staff and event support.


“I love the mission of BL²END and the focus on young professionals in our city. Their work is so important in helping our upcoming generation of leaders to develop a network of peers and mentors. As a result, these connections will strengthen their professional lives today and tomorrow.”

Dr. Bill PinkPresident, Grand Rapids Community College

“BL²END is one of the best stories of success in West Michigan. What started by a handful of volunteers with a specific goal in mind, has grown to be uniquely positioned in the market to have the biggest impact in the lives of young professionals of color and, in turn, our community. BL²END’s many opportunities for network and professional development are complementary to the private sector’s efforts to develop, attract and retain talent.”

Carlos SanchezDirector, Latino Business and Economic Development Center of Ferris State University

“For any community that is committed to being relevant, attractive and “sticky” to emerging top talent, it must understand that a mental shift from simply being a welcoming community to a belonging community is critical. That can’t be done simply with research – it must be modeled. This is why BL²END is a fundamental component to the success of West Michigan. They offer opportunities, service and a solid history of making our community better. BL²END helps young professionals feel like they belong.”

Skot WelchPresident, Global Bridgebuilders | Founder, The Mosaic Film Experience

“BL²END is a critical lifeline for talented professionals of color — especially those new to the Grand Rapids community.  As a Detroit native, BL²END created a space of belonging for me to forge authentic relationships with emerging and existing leaders, expand my social networks, and serve in philanthropic spaces that aligned with my values, culture, and lived experiences.  Through BL²END, I was able to access employment opportunities and pursue ongoing professional development that supported my desire to be upwardly mobile in my career. “

Shannon CohenFounder and Principal, Shannon Cohen, Inc.

“BL²END has shown itself to our community as an organization of world-changers. Where individuals with various backgrounds and perspectives have joined together for the greater cause of creating a more inclusive city to live in. BL²END is contributing to Grand Rapids becoming a place that all professionals, despite color or creed, have the opportunity to connect to the advanced professional makings of a great and growing city!”

Tiffany DeMyersExecutive President, BL²END

“I am very grateful for an organization like BL²END in the Grand Rapids community. Moving from the east side of the state, BL²END served as a tremendous resource for me to connect with other like-minded individuals and develop professionally. Thanks for all you do to serve the community!”

Kisha J. McphersonOperations Specialist, Spectrum Health

“Personally and professionally, BL²END helped me to become connected to amazing people, places and opportunities in Grand Rapids. I developed as a leader and member of the board while becoming a better community member as a result of the programming BL²END has to offer. BL²END is the reason I’m committed to this community and will always be a part of my Grand Rapids legacy.”

Janean CouchProgram Officer, Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Join the Board!

We welcome individuals looking to volunteer their time and talents to join our Board of Directors.

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