GR Initiative for Leaders

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Our Story

Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders (GRIL) is a faith-based organization created by alumni of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (DVULI) in 2004. GRIL offers nine-month leadership development programs including a GRIL U teen leadership program, two adult leadership programs (Breakthrough and Emerge), alumni programming, Community Leadership Trainings, and a national initiative. Each program is designed to create an ecosystem of equipped leaders who are civically engaged with organizations, businesses, and churches to transform communities through a lens of justice.

Diversity Statement
GRIL is intentional in demonstrating cultural competence within our organization. While we know that we are not perfect, we place diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice as paramount within our work, and we are committed to championing inclusion as we strengthen leaders to transform communities.

Our Mission
To strengthen leaders to transform communities.

Our Vision
An ecosystem of equipped, civic minded leaders doing justice in their community.

BBB Torch Awards for Ethics

What We Do

GRIL U Teen Program

Intentional training to prepare you for your future and help you to consider how you are wired, your purpose, and your role as a leader in the community.

Emerge Program

Training for those who are seeking personal growth as well as growing leadership capacity in the community.


Training for those in leadership positions who are seeking personal growth as well as growing leadership capacity and understanding systems and structures of organizations.

GRIL Trainings

Other various trainings on one of our core values to license model that allows you to use the curriculum to enhance your organization leadership development.

Meet Our Staff & Board

Denise Fase – CEO
Contact Denise

Tyreece Guyton – COO
Contact Tyreece

Ben Brewer – Board Chair

Dr. John Walcott – Board Secretary

Matias Martinez – Treasurer

Javonna Allen – GRIL Lead Person

Ke-Shawn Smith

Erin Mieskowski

Shannon Pothoven

Darren C Williamson

Gordan Lee

A Letter from the Board

To Our Community,

GR Initiative for Leaders (GRIL) is humbled and sincerely grateful for your continued support as we equip and train community-focused, civic minded leaders over the last two decades. The community’s continued dedication to interdependence, education, and imagining new spaces to grow has helped GRIL to remain faithful and committed to our mission of strengthening leaders to transform communities.

The community has allowed GRIL to meet the challenge of growth and provide powerful leadership training for the teen and adult populations to transform the communities in which we live and work. As we look forward to the needs of these communities, GRIL’s focus is to bring together our alumni leaders to bolster the community civic minded and equipped leaders. These leaders already have the knowledge, skills, and abilities from our programs to make this happen.

Our passion is breaking down barriers to realize a vibrant community that operates with efficient, meaningful interdependence. As we continue to grow an ecosystem in which teens and adults continue to grow as leaders, we want to share with the community our pathways models. The pathways model is meant to connect participants and alumni more easily with their passion as soon as possible after completing our programs. Currently, we are focused on pathways that support community organizing, social justice work, youth leadership opportunities and higher education. In these pathways we want leaders to be able to get right into the frontline work of transforming their communities. Using these pathways, we will bring together existing leaders and institutions to create a healthy community.

GRIL continues to raise leaders who live out their purpose within the communities in which they live and work. We believe that GRIL’s pathway movement plays a vital role for every community in giving people a larger voice, strengthening leaders, and leading change in our community. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to the growth that the future holds.

Benjamin M. Brewer, GRIL U ’09
Board Chair

Financial Reports:


Form 990

22-23 Year in Review


Form 990

21-22 Year in Review


Form 990

20-21 Year in Review


Form 990

19-20 Year in Review


Form 990

18-19 Year in Review


Form 990


Form 990


Form 990