Under the glow of stage lights and against the beat of live music, nearly 400 engaged Grand Rapidians celebrated imagination, innovation and inspiration at the 8th Annual iBall, hosted by the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology at 20 Monroe Live on March 21.

In one corner guests were screen printing their own t-shirts; on the other side of the room a collaborative art project was coming together over conversation, drinks and appetizers. In the middle of it all, we were building community and making connections.

Jasmine Hayes, a graduate of WMCAT’s adult career training program and current med tech at Spectrum Health, met Spectrum CEO Tina Freese-Decker. Teen artists from WMCAT shared their original work with elected officials, including Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and State Senator Winnie Brinks. And leaders from business, education and community shared ideas, and a few laughs, over dinner.

“This is what I’ve always envisioned for WMCAT — that place where adults, teens, professionals, community leaders, and employers are all in the same space,” said WMCAT President and CEO Daniel Williams. “(That place) where unusual suspects are connecting, learning and growing together.”

Check out our photos from iBall 2019 on our Facebook page. See yourself, see a friend, and see the power of connectivity in building community. 

That’s what sets iBall apart. It’s not just a dinner. It’s not just a program from the stage. It’s the intentionality we bring to building community at iBall, giving guests ample space to create together, to connect together. It’s showcasing local live music from Cierra Barerra, a WMCAT teen program alum, and Kalamazoo’s Last Gasp Collective. It’s honoring a mother who found a meaningful career pathway at WMCAT and just purchased her first home. And it’s raising awareness and funds for work in our community that advances equitable access to opportunity.

We can’t wait for next year’s iBall. Until then, let’s keep building community together.