Who We Are

BL²END’s mission is to foster an environment of growth and belonging where young professionals of color can
connect with each other, develop professionally and contribute to the local community.

Our Purpose

BL²END concentrates on the need for young professionals of color to have consistent networking and development opportunities, allowing them to build relationships and become actively engaged in the community. BL²END enhances the Grand Rapids experience while sharpening the skills of young professionals to thrive in the workplace.

With the values of education, collaboration, community, integrity, and professionalism, BL²END demonstrates commitment to attaining the organization’s mission through their three Strategic Initiatives: Social Networking, Professional Development, and Community Outreach.

Our Roots

BL²END (Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions) was established in 2006 by a group of young professionals who found themselves living and working in the Grand Rapids area upon graduation. The transition from college to the professional world brought challenges, including building a new personal and professional network, and connecting within the community to add value. Together they created a solution that has given the Grand Rapids young professionals of color an opportunity to connect, develop and contribute.

Our Leadership

Our board of directors are young professionals who are passionate about making Grand Rapids a diverse and inclusive community to live, work and play. With the support of our amazing advisory council of seasoned professionals, we are able to help advance and retain young professionals of color in our community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of organization is BL²END?

BL²END is a registered 501(c)6 nonprofit organization, governed and operated by a volunteer Board of Directors. BL²END is supported by partnerships with businesses and community organizations which provide in-kind donations and financial contributions through strategic partnerships. The organization is also supported by the annual dues of the Board of Directors and Advisory Council Members. To learn more about strategic partnership opportunities, please contact us.

How does BL²END differ from other professional organizations in the Grand Rapids area?

BL²END plays a critical role in attracting and retaining talented individuals in the Greater Grand Rapids Area. Our initiatives target the specific needs of young professionals of color with a primary focus on individual relationship-building, opportunities to develop professionally, and a high level of engagement in the community we live, work, and play in. Ultimately, we desire to keep young and diverse talent in the area. BL²END consistently provides an event each month, allowing individuals the opportunity to continually connect, develop, and contribute to the community.

What is a typical BL²END event?

As BL²END continues to grow, so does the need to sustain quality programming. To keep our participants highly engaged, BL²END offers monthly events that rotate between Social Networking, Professional Development, and Community Outreach.

How do I become a member?

BL²END does not have a formal membership, therefore, no membership dues are required to participate. You can become involved with BL²END as a “participant” by attending our events and programs. Participation is open to all and offered at low to no cost. If you are interested in further supporting the our mission, please visit our Get Involved Page.

What are the requirements to participate at a BL²END event?

We welcome and encourage, all individuals of any background to participate in one of our monthly events. The BL²END experience is unmatched, with great opportunities to engage and feel included. In support of our mission, BL²END’s programming is designed with Young Professionals of Color ages 21 to 35, in mind. However, participation is not limited to any specific race or age.  From the word’s of our visionary, we’ve recognized “that creating a sense of belonging for one community does not mean that there has to be a sense of exclusion for another. We named the organization BL²END to be an invitation to all that want to help others while helping themselves”

At BL²END, we believe that diversity and inclusion are imperative not only for individual growth, but to support the Grand Rapids’ economic viability and competitive edge.

How can I or my organization contribute to BL²END (in addition to event participation)

As a community, grass-roots organization, BL²END is powered by the partnerships it has with the individuals and organizations in the Grand Rapids area. We always welcome the opportunity to explore expanding our community relationships. If you or your organization are interested in contributing to us adding significant value to the sustainability of young leadership and the diversity in Greater Grand Rapids. We encourage you to visit our Get Involved page.  Where we help capture the time and talent of individuals eager to contribute to their communities and develop leaders and professionals. With the goal of retaining them in the area, to impact the future of diversity and leadership in our community.

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