School and Community Tours
A variety of tools are available to schools and organizations interested in learning about the Federal Judiciary and Court system. Federal courthouses are a popular destination for student field trips. Tours of the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse (Grand Rapids) may be scheduled year around for adults, and students in Grades 9-12.
Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and Courthouse
The Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse was constructed in 1971, and is located in the Vandenberg Center Urban Renewal Area which fronts Michigan Street NW, between Monroe Avenue and Ottawa Avenue NW . The building is named for Gerald R. Ford, former Congressman, Vice President, and 38th President of the United States.
The United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan occupies a significant portion of the building, with office space assigned to U.S. District Court Judges, U.S. Magistrate Judges, the Clerk of Court offices, Probation and Pretrial Services Offices, and the U.S. Marshal Service.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan offers a community outreach program in the form of an informative presentation and basic tour to increase public awareness about the role and function of the federal courts, and to give participants an opportunity to meet the court’s judges, officers, and staff that comprise the Court family. These programs are available upon request to educational and various civic organizations free of charge.
When Scheduling Courthouse tours:
- All tours are scheduled by appointment only. (Tours are Wednesdays and Thursdays, between the hours of 10am and 12pm).
- You must have photo identification with you.
- You will be required to go through security (magnetometer and x-ray machines).
- Weapons or sharp objects that could be used as weapons are also strictly prohibited.
Other information and links regarding the Judiciary and federal courts:
The Federal Judicial Center, as well as the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and other agencies have developed websites of interest as educational resources for schools, organizations and individuals seeking an understanding of the federal judicial system. The information includes sites for all ages.
- Understanding the Federal Courts -- Publication providing an introduction to the federal judicial system, its organization and administration, and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the government.
- The Federal Judicial Center -- The Federal Judicial Center is the research and education agency of the judicial branch of the U.S. government.
- Inside the Federal Courts -- Interactive site developed for both employees of the federal Judiciary and the public as an overview of the Federal Courts. Program includes a quiz for each section to test your understanding of material covered.
- Federal Courts and What They Do -- A pamphlet answering some of the most frequently asked questions by courthouse visitors.
- History of the Federal Judiciary -- A website developed by the Federal Judicial Center providing teachers and students information on judges, courthouses, landmark legislation and judicial history.
- Western District of Michigan Historical society -- Founded in 2002 with the support of the Western Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Historical Society was created to research, collect and preserve the history of the bench and bar of the federal court in Western Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
- Kids.gov -- The official U.S. Government portal providing links for kids to learn more about different parts of our government, as well as some fun facts.