The Resident Proposal Review Board

Deciding how the Ready by Five Early Childhood millage funding is spent is no small task. As the millage is supported by Kent County taxpayers, it is important residents have a key voice in how the money is allocated. Those important decisions fall to the Resident Proposal Review Board — a diverse group of nine community members from across Kent County. The Resident Review Board is a neutral entity that reviews proposals from service providers and makes recommendations about which programs and services should be funded.

Parents are central to that decision-making process, with four seats on the Resident Review Board. First Steps Kent put out a call for involved, passionate parents of children under the age of five from all corners of Kent County. Thirty-five parents applied, submitting videos in which they explained their interest and why they would be a good addition to the group. The four parents selected come from different parents of Kent County and represent the diversity of the community. They include one father, a foster parent, and an early child care provider. The parents include Laura Bassett, Ericka Lozano-Buhl, Mark Pagel, and Joslyn Ward.

Other members of the Resident Review Board include:

  • Joanne Kelty, a retired early childhood specialist from Grand Rapids Public Schools who brings decades of professional experience in the early childhood field;
  • Dr. Juan Olivarez, representing the First Steps Kent Commission;
  • Sandra Ghoston-Jones, Management Analyst with the Kent County Administrator's Office who has years of experience working with the Kent County Senior Millage;
  • and Kent County Commissioners Phil Skaggs and Monica Polk-Sparks.

"We are lucky to have such a passionate Resident Review Board," said Juan Olivarez, Resident Proposal Review Board Chair. "During the first round of funding decisions, we had such thoughtful deliberation from the group. The board represents both demographic diversity and diversity in thinking. The deliberations were difficult and intentional."

Members of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Resident Proposal Review Board will serve in terms up to two years.