NIA Centre opens downtown community engagement center

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The 1,369-square-foot community engagement center will serve as an office for NIA Centre staff and board members, a co-working and meeting space for its membership, the site for NIA Centre programming and meeting space available for rental. Courtesy NIA Centre

A nonprofit organization working to place an African American cultural center in Grand Rapids opened a community engagement center in the heart of downtown.

Located at 300 Commerce Ave. SW in Grand Rapids’ Heartside neighborhood, the 1,369-square-foot community engagement center will serve as an office for NIA Centre staff and board members, a co-working and meeting space for its membership, the site for NIA Centre programming and meeting space available for rental.

Robert Upton Jr. Courtesy NIA Centre

“We are excited to keep the momentum building within West Michigan,” said Robert Upton Jr., NIA Centre board chair. “Our new community engagement center is a critical step in the NIA Centre’s incredible journey of bringing a world-class African American cultural center to the city of Grand Rapids.”

Discounts for meeting space rental are available to Third Ward residents, organizations serving individuals experiencing homelessness in the Heartside neighborhood and NIA Centre membership.

“Our community engagement center will provide a space where community members can gather, share, teach and learn,” Upton said. “We are grateful to the Wege Foundation for supporting our efforts to open this space so we can better serve residents and offer impactful programming.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the NIA Centre continued virtual programming, hosting several virtual events featuring doctors from Metro Health-University of Michigan Health and Spectrum Health, as well as a world-renowned violinist.

Upton said the organization is looking forward to continuing virtual programming in 2021 and resuming in-person events when it is safe to do so.

Programming updates, membership details and space rental information are available at niacentregr.org.

The NIA Centre

With roots dating to 2011, the NIA Centre’s mission is to inspire, build, transform and connect people of all ages. NIA is leading an effort to place an African American cultural center that it hopes will be the foremost destination, resource and opportunity for sharing and expressing African American culture.

The NIA Centre provides events and programming in the following six focus areas: arts and entertainment; diversity, equity and inclusion; education; entrepreneurship and wealth building; health care; and research.

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