Transform Rockford: Implementing a Vision for Rockford’s Future

A movement is underway to strategically transform the Rockford region while creating a Top 25 community. Meet the group leading the charge, and see what they’ve accomplished so far.

Shaking off the challenges of its past, the Rockford region is carving a bold trail toward a dynamic future.

Since 2013 the nonprofit Transform Rockford, using tactics familiar to the corporate world, has been developing a strategic plan that leaders hope will make Rockford a Top 25 community by 2025.

Transform Rockford’s work began with visioning sessions in 2013 and 2014 that sought input from the community at large. Their vision led to the creation of 12 “spoke” teams that spent the next two years researching Rockford’s existing conditions and the tactics that have reshaped other American communities. Spokes ranged from the concrete, such as Safety/Crime and Economy & Jobs to the more far-reaching, such as Families & Neighborhoods and Unity, Pride & Culture.

By 2016, these spoke teams were honing in on strategies that could be employed within our region; many of the volunteers running these groups were implementing changes and realigning their own organizations accordingly.

Groups like YMCA of Rock River Valley launched new programs to engage area youth. The Healthy Lifestyles spoke team recruited a Blue Zones initiative that helps communities to implement healthy attributes in the areas of physical activity, healthy eating, stress management and loving/being loved.

Now, the volunteers behind Transform Rockford are deploying these refined strategies and developing actual projects that promise to have a transformational impact on the greater region. A civility campaign and public safety initiatives rank among the 65 proposed projects.

More than 6,000 volunteers have dedicated more than 65,000 hours to help the Transform Rockford movement. Several factors, shown below, indicate that the region is headed in the right direction.

New partnerships are popping up and community resources are aligning for a common cause. Jobs are being created and capital is being invested, not just in manufacturing but in growing industries like health care and logistics. The housing market is recovering and national leaders are taking notice.

But this is just the beginning of a movement toward positive improvement.

To learn how you can support the Rockford region’s transformation from within, and to learn more about the Transform Rockford movement, visit