Annual Process for Data and Evaluation

July 2021

Revising Data Collection

Based on the data from the 2020-2021 Community Listening Project we have included accurate and varied data as a key factor in our decision making processes in our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan. As we have taken the past year to confirm and refine what this new data process will be we have considered:

  • Including and highlighting student voices and needs
  • Including and highlighting  community/partner voices and needs
  • Having accurate longitudinal and year-to-year comparative data
  • Including quantitative and qualitative data
  • Ensuring that we are studying data points that we have impact over and can use to improve our programming
  • Ensuring that we are supplementing our school partners and their incredible work, not overlapping it

Annual Data Collection and Presentation Process

With this in mind, we are thrilled to present to you our new, yearly data collection and presentation process that will be entirely in effect beginning this 2021-2022 mentoring year. The data from each of these will strictly follow all rules and laws around confidentiality, including FERPA and HIPAA laws, but will be made appropriately public on our website under our Reports page:


  • Developmental Assets ProfilePre-programming assessment administered to mentees 4th-8th grade focusing on beneficial relationships and Social Emotional Learning.
  • Annual Report: Previous year programming and financial data.


  • Community Listening Project: Community feedback on whether our work is needed and desired in the community and how best to accomplish it .


  • Mentoring Feedback Survey: Administered to ALL mentees, mentors, teachers, and parents/guardians who participate in Affinity Mentoring (we administered a partial survey for the 2020-2021 school year as a trial).
  • Developmental Assets ProfilePost-programming assessment administered to mentees 4th-8th grade focusing on beneficial relationships and Social Emotional Learning
  • Middle School Mentoring Steering Committee Survey: Administered to all steering committee participants focusing on using their voice, leadership development, and follow through.

We are grateful to participate in a community that understands the value of excellent qualitative and quantitative data, and thrilled to have new ways of listening directly to program participants and giving them a louder voice to help make Affinity Mentoring whatever it is they need it to be. Please do not hesitate to reach out to with any follow up questions, comments, or ideas.

Staff Promotions

July 2021

Angela Reyna (L) and Rocio Moreno (R)

We’re pleased to announce that our two longest standing team members, Angela Reyna and Rocio Moreno, have been promoted to new positions starting July 1!

Angela has served as the Mentoring Program Assistant the past 3 years and she will now be the new Godfrey-Lee Middle School Site Coordinator.

Rocio has been with Affinity for more than 4 years, her most recent position being Burton Elementary and Middle School Site Coordinator. This year she is transitioning into the newly developed Program Director role! 

We’re pleased to be building opportunities for upward mobility and career pathways for our amazing team members. Please congratulate them and be patient as they transition into their new roles!

View full team bios and roles here.

Affinity Launches New Middle School Mentoring Steering Committee

June 2021

In 2020 Jim Jensen, Principal at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools (GLPS) Middle School, reached out to Affinity Mentoring and asked if we would begin a mentoring programming for GLPS middle school students, to be an additional piece of support for students as they navigate the difficult transition years between elementary school and high school. (See our letter of support from Jim Jensen.)

Additionally, our Community Listening Project (page 3) revealed that community members believe that expanding our mentoring program with our current mentoring partners, and especially expanding middle school mentoring, should be our highest priorities. 

With this push in mind, we did some additional research that aligned strongly with feedback from the community. We found that, as of 10/12/20, 34% of Michigan households with children reported feeling nervous, anxious, and on edge, while 22% reported feeling down, depressed, or hopeless; that COVID-19 affects both mental and physical health, with communities of color facing the highest concerns (3); and BIPOC individuals are at the highest risk for the “loneliness epidemic”, with isolation shown to be up to “twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity.” (2) Additionally, poor literacy is linked to long-term negative health outcomes (1), while Middle School has high rates of loss in academic success and increased fail rates (4), and students of color have additional concerns and stigmas to face during this transition  (5). (See our full bibliography.) Our research confirmed what Principal Jensen and the community were telling us; middle schoolers need mentoring support! 

With this confirmation to move forward with growing mentoring in the GLPS Middle School, we wanted to proceed with intentionality. After taking the time in 2020 to carefully and thoughtfully consider not only what our work is, but how we do it, we firmly stand behind beliefs that “youth are already leaders and community members, but need equitable access and platforms to use their voice”, and that, “[w]e believe in cultivating a brave space that amplifies the voices of young agents of change in a diverse and inclusive community”. Rooted in these beliefs, two staff members (Angela Reyna and Holly Hetherington) submitted a project to the Steelcase Social Innovation Fellowship 2020 to give key stakeholders the ability to help us build this program. (Check out their Video Pitch!) They were awarded the fellowship and have spent the past three months facilitating and building the Middle School Mentoring Steering Committee, whom we are thrilled and proud to introduce to you today:


Year Joined: Summer 2021

LAUREN ENOS | Affinity MSW Intern
Lauren works at Community Living Services as a Self Determination Coordinator, working with adults with developmental disabilities and their supports coordinators. This year she is serving as the MSW Intern for Affinity Mentoring where she supports the work of the Executive Director, Cassandra Kiger. She remembers the difficulties of being a middle school student and transitioning into adulthood and wanted to join the steering committee because she recognizes the positive impact that this type of program can have on students.

"Middle schoolers are on the verge of something brand new. It can be an exciting time; they are on the precipice of transitioning to young adulthood, yet still so full of wonder and imagination. Middle schoolers are incredibly funny, exciting, creative and silly, but are also ready for that next step and they deserve that respect."

Year Joined: Spring 2021

JACKLYN HERNANDEZ | GLPS Parent, School Board Trustee
Jacklyn is parent of middle schoolers at Lee Middle School, is president of the PTO, and she serves as a School Board Trustee for Godfrey-Lee Public Schools.

"I want to make sure that we give voice to what parents and students want and need. I hope that we are successful in creating relationships through mentoring that will have and create lasting impact on our students and community."

Year Joined: Spring 2021

HOLLY HETHERINGTON | Affinity Staff Facilitator
Holly is the Office Coordinator for Affinity Mentoring and is one of the facilitators of this committee. This past year she also began mentoring through Affinity. Holly is currently seeking a Master’s in Social Innovation at GVSU. In her free time she loves to play soccer, eat delicious food, and kayak.

"I want students' voices to shape the work we do. Their leadership will make the mentoring program at the middle school so much more impactful."

No photo available.
Year Joined: Spring 2021

Isabel is a 9th grade student at Lee High School. She enjoys playing volleyball, soccer, video games, and watching a lot of twitch streams.

"I really liked the steering committee it was full of hard working smart people who want to help people!"

Year Joined: Spring 2021

Alejandra graduated from Lee High School and currently attends Grand Rapids Community College. She serves as the Family Support Services Manage at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan and volunteers as an Affinity mentor at Southwest Community Campus (SWCC).

"I’ve first hand seen the benefit of being a mentor and know I would have benefitted from one if I had the opportunity so I support bringing mentoring opportunities into Godfrey Lee Middle School."

Year Joined: Spring 2021

Kim teaches 6th grade reading at Lee Middle School. She has been teaching at Lee MS/HS since 1999 in various teaching positions.

"I joined this steering committee because a student I admire asked me to be a part of it - what better reason is there? I didn't know anything about Affinity Mentoring before this, but am looking forward to see where it goes and how it impacts our students at LMS!"

Year Joined: Spring 2021

ANGELA REYNA | Affinity Staff Facilitator and GLPS Alumna
Angela is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Social Work at Grand Valley State University. Angela graduated from Lee High School graduated from in 2013 and is also the Lee middle school girls soccer coach. Angela was one of the first mentor matches for the mentoring program as a student at Burton Elementary. Through first-hand experience, she understands the positive impact that a mentor can have on youth experiencing poverty. During her free time, she enjoys playing soccer and going on adventures with her youngest sister, Sophia.

"Being a part of the steering committee team is very exciting since I will be able to work alongside middle school students, teachers, community members, and mentors to build a mentoring program that will work for LMS. The steering committee allows me to listen and understand what middle schoolers need in a mentoring program and it lets us all dream and be creative of how the mentoring program will look like."

Year Joined: Spring 2021

JACKEE THOMPSON | GLPS Community Partner
Jackee serves as the KSSN Community School Coordinator at Godfrey-Lee Middle School. She has worked in the GLPS district for the past two years and loves what she does. Currently, Jackee attends Spring Arbor University where she is pursuing a Master of Education with a focus on Trauma and Resiliency.

"I want to join the steering committee because I want to ensure that Affinity Mentoring is Successful at Lee Middle School, and students get the opportunity to build partnerships and friendships with mentors in our community."

No photo available.
Year Joined: Spring 2021

Dulce is a 7th grade student at Lee Middle School. She enjoys drawing and trying new crafts with her little brother. She joined the steering committee based on recommendations and encouragement from her teachers and Principal Jensen.

"The steering committee was interesting, it was my first time hearing about mentoring. It will be helpful for middle schoolers at Lee."

Year Joined: Spring 2021

Adriana is a 7th grade student at Lee Middle School. She enjoys reading and playing softball. Her favorite part of the committee was being able to hear other's ideas and learn more about them.

"Students will be able to have a distraction from school and have the opportunity to talk about all sorts of things with their mentor."


  • This committee includes GLPS Middle School students, teachers, parents of students, and school partners
  • Students provide direct feedback on what they need and want to  want to successfully engage mentoring and encourage their peers to engage; teachers give feedback on how we can reduce their workload and be a support in and outside of the classroom; parents give feedback on how to successfully communicate and ensure guardians are a part of this mentoring team; and other community partners keep us from working in isolation and/or doubling up services unnecessarily
  • In an effort to avoid extracting knowledge and ideas without compensation, all non-staff participants in the committee for the 21-22 fiscal year will receive an honorarium
  • The committee is facilitated by Affinity team members, Holly Hetherington and Angela Reyna, who provide structure, resources, and advocate for the committee goals and needs
  • This committee is NOT about tokenism; we present these individuals to you in the same format that we do staff and board members, and interns, because we believe that their input is equally important, and we have incorporated an honorarium and budget for this committee to keep us accountable
  • This committee is NOT temporary. We cannot predict whether it will always function in the same way or in the same space, but this is simply one more way that we will innovatively involve students, parents, and partners more fully in our work (see our 2021-2023 Strategic plan for more details)

To learn more about this committee or to get involved contact Holly Hetherington at

New Board Members Appointed

June 24, 2021

Affinity Mentoring today announced several new appointments to its board of directors, including Malaina Weldy and Frank Acosta.

Frank AcostaFrank Acosta | Independent Bank

Frank is a dedicated and driven young marketing professional focused on making a difference in the community. He currently serves as the Digital Marketing Manager for Independent Bank.

When he’s not in the office, you can likely find him outdoors or spending quality time with his family and friends. Frank has volunteered through Affinity Mentoring at SWCC in Grand Rapids for 2 years and is excited to give back to the organization through board service. Frank also serves on the board of directors for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids. He is Vice-Chair of the Marketing Committee for the Michigan Bankers Association and a Planning & Strategy Committee member for Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.

He earned an Associates in Science and Arts Degree from Muskegon Community College and a Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing Degree from Davenport University.

Malaina WeldyMalaina Weldy | Warner Norcross + Judd LLP

Malaina received her Bachelor of Arts in Business from Goshen College and her Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame. She is currently an attorney in the business practice group at Warner Norcross + Judd LLP and focuses her practice on corporate governance, formation, mergers and acquisitions, and commercial financing. She also assists with trademark licensing and domain name dispute resolution. Malaina grew up in northern Indiana and has loved getting to explore Grand Rapids and call it home. Malaina volunteers with her church and enjoys playing soccer, reading, and walking her rescue dog, Vinnie.

A full list of board members can be found at

100 Days, 100 Mentors

Each year we have over 100 students on our waiting list, asking for mentors across our four sites.

We need your help.

In the next 100 days, our goals are to:

Will you join us?

Become a Mentor Match Sponsor. Make a small, monthly contribution to Affinity. Your gift will not only help students academically, but it’ll also give them the social and emotional support they need to work towards a positive future.

Become a Mentor. Sign up today to mentor one student for one hour week starting this fall and ask a friend to mentor too! [Read how we’ve transitioned mentoring to be virtual in our COVID-19 Response Plan]

Share our campaign on social media with the hashtag #100days100mentors tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Meet Affinity’s Newest MSW Intern

May 21, 2021

Lauren Enos, MSW Intern

My name is Lauren and I am currently an MSW student at Grand Valley State University. I have my Bachelors degree in Psychology from Wagner College, in NYC. Although I have worked with adults with developmental disabilities since 2007, I have seen the impact of mentorship within the disability field.

What attracted me to Affinity Mentoring is the personal impact mentoring has had on me.  I have always wanted to work in a program that helped young students to develop their sense of identity, through mentorship and support from those around them. I believe Affinity’s mission and goals can have an important impact not only on the students, but on the mentors as well. I am excited to learn alongside the team and develop my social work skills. 

Welcome Lauren!

Black Lives Matter: Update April 2021

April 21, 2021

We believe that Black Lives Matter. Therefore, yesterday’s verdict provided a level of accountability that the family and friends of George Floyd deserved. However, we must continue to seek change so that no family must ever survive what they have faced, and that black and brown people in the United States can feel safe and valued. To our community members of color; we see you, we grieve with you, we celebrate with you. Your exhaustion and anger and joy are all valid and there is room for them all, and we respect whatever your response may be these events. Additionally, we hold firm in our commitment to continuously review ourselves as individuals and an organization to ensure that we perpetuate in our words and actions the value that your life holds and how much you do, in fact, matter. We understand that some may not agree with how we make these decisions; we simply ask for individuals to listen, choose empathy, and choose to imagine a world where we never have to ask whether or not a human life has worth and value. 

To our partners and mentors, we ask you to consider our mentees, over 90% who identify as people of color, who will grow up to look more like George Floyd than our white community members. What must it feel like to be a student, a child, and live through these events? If we truly believe in the worth, potential, leadership skills and value of our students, what do they need to see from us today? We know that children are intelligent, perceptive, and are always listening and learning from us; what will we teach them today about their own worth and place in this community?

We understand and validate that these conversations can be hard, or even frightening; please step into them. We know that the best thing we can do to support students increasing their Social Emotional Learning is by modeling if for them, so here are some ideas to engage and openly communicate with the students around you today:

  • Remember that you do not have to have an answer; use your OARS (O = Open Questions, A = Affirmations, R = Reflective Listening, S = Summarizing) to simply sit in this hard space with them and let them know you hear them.
  • Let’s remind ourselves that ignoring these difficult truths is not a service to children; engaging with them gives them a sense of safety, empowerment, worth, and helps them know they are free to ask questions and feel a full range of emotions.
  • We validate that it can be awkward to stay with the pain and confusion; please stay with it anyway.
  • We have included two resources shared by Grand Rapids Public Schools to help learn methods to hold open conversations and healthy discourse with students; take time today to ponder how you can use these skills and practices to support the growth and healing of students around you.
  • Never hesitate to reach out to Affinity staff members with questions, for support, or for additional resources. We are here for you. We do, however, want to make clear that we will not tolerate any communication or comments to or about students that puts their worth, or the worth of individuals who look like them, into question. 

May we each take time today to rest, reflect, breathe, and heal before we return to our work of pushing and striving, because “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)


Cassandra L. Kiger, Executive Director of Affinity Mentoring 

Mentoring Max

April 1, 2021

Mentoring Max Activity Instructions

We know we’re Better Together and we want to see how you are staying together even while apart. Affinity Mentoring doesn’t need a physical Mentor Center to promote learning, creativity, and connection. Show us your favorite activities to do with your mentor, mentee, or family (virtually or safely + socially distanced)! Please note, anyone can participate – you do not need to be a current mentor or mentee.

There are two ways to participate, print and color your own Mentoring Max OR use our animated sticker on Instagram! To have your submission be featured in our upcoming Better Together Benefit event, your Mentoring Max must be received by an Affinity Staff member or tagged to our social media account by Friday, April 23.

Download the Mentoring Max Print Out + Instructions!

Print + Color + Cut

  1. Design your own Mentoring Max, using the template outline. Be as creative as you want!
  2. Cut out your Mentoring Max.
  3. Take a picture or video of you and Mentoring Max (at school, home, playing) – wherever you enjoy being together! 
  4. Send your picture or video to Affinity Mentoring to be featured on our Instagram. Send via:
    • Email:
    • Mail: Affinity Mentoring 818 Butterworth St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
    • Social Media: For posting on social media be sure to tag @affinity.mentoring and use the hashtags #MentoringMax and #BetterTogether (must be a public post to be shared to Affinity’s page).

Animated Instagram Sticker

  1. Take a video or photo of your favorite thing to do during mentoring or an activity that is better with other people (favorite board game, playing in the park, reading books).
  2. Upload your video or picture to your personal Instagram account as a Story or Post.
  3. Be sure to Tag @affinity.mentoring and use the hashtag #MentoringMax and #BetterTogether.
  4. Add the Animated Sticker Version by going to GIF:

Meet the Artist

Digital Artwork created by former SWCC Mentor, Pablo Castro. Pablo is a Chilean storyteller and visual artist who has written a number of film and TV scripts, and whose short stories have been published in Chile and the U.S. He now works as a freelance video animator and the director of Springboard, a translation and communication agency that helps Latin American filmmakers access opportunities abroad. See more of Pablo’s work at: including the animated video of Affinity!

COVID-19 Response Plan: April 2021

March 24, 2021 | [Disponible en Español abajo]

At Affinity we are ecstatic about the vaccine roll out, with many of our staff already receiving the vaccine and/or are on waiting lists, and we feel the hope that this brings to our community. HOWEVER, the most recent update from the Kent County Health Department was titled: “Kent County Health Department Warns of Increase in COVID-19 Positivity Rate: Number of cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations all increasing”, which is reflected across Michigan, the US, and the world. For reference, last April when we were in full lockdown Michigan had an average of around 1,500 new cases per day; now we are averaging well over 3,000 cases per day and the numbers are climbing. 

“It is critically important for everyone to remember that the arrival of coronavirus variants and prematurely relaxed attitudes about COVID-19, put our community in grave danger of a resurgence in cases and deaths,” said Kent County Health Department Administrative Health Officer, Dr. Adam London. “Our county has already lost at least 656 residents to this pandemic. We do not want to see anyone else lose their life, especially when we are so near to the end of this pandemic.”

The KCHD is also encouraging residents to be prepared to get vaccinated as soon as an opportunity is available. Links for pre-registration at various clinics can be found here

At this time, we want to encourage all mentors, volunteers, donors, and community members to refer back to our original COVID-19 guidelines for a refresher into the steps we are taking to keep students and families safe.

In addition to these guidelines, we want to address two sets of questions we have been receiving:


    We are so grateful for and completely understand that we have mentors who want to be able to meet with their mentees in-person after an entire year apart! We never prohibit any interactions that parents/guardians initiate and supervise between mentors and mentees, but, we encourage mentors to allow parents to make these decisions based on the safety of themselves and their families, and we will intervene if any family is feeling pressured to approve or facilitate these meetings.  However, we are still not approving Affinity sponsored Independent Outings. We feel this is supported by CDC guidelines stating that it is still recommended that individuals who are not from the same household should only be spending time together not socially distanced if both individuals are fully vaccinated. If a mentor/mentee match finds themselves in this situation and want to inquire further about Independent Outings, please reach out to your Site Coordinator. We understand that there are additional guidelines for socially distanced outings outdoors, and we are going to continue asking that this be initiated by families and supervised by parents/guardians if they take place.


    Individuals would validly like to know what mentoring will look like next year; unfortunately, we do not have answers yet. We are grateful that our schools are waiting to make decisions until they have the most up to date and accurate information. We do not expect to have firm and final answers about what kind of mentoring we will do next year until we are much closer to the school year beginning, but we will be prepared for all options, and we will communicate with you regularly with any information or updates that we receive. No matter what, we are prepared and have the experience under our belts to ensure that these crucial relationships continue growing. 

Thank you so much for your commitment to students and families, to keeping our community safe and healthy, and to Affinity Mentoring. We are continuously grateful for you and inspired by your enthusiasm, care, and dedication. For any questions or concerns, please contact me directly at, or 616-209-8435.

Sincerely, Cassandra Kiger

COVID-19 Response Plan: July 2020

Plan de Respuesta de Affinity para COVID-19: abril 2021 

24 de marzo de 2021

En Affinity estamos encantados con el lanzamiento de la vacuna, ya que muchos de nuestro personal ya están recibiendo la vacuna y/o están en listas de espera, y sentimos la esperanza que esto trae a nuestra comunidad. SIN EMBARGO, la actualización más reciente del Departamento de Salud del Condado de Kent se tituló: “El Departamento de Salud del Condado de Kent Advierte Sobre un Aumento en la Tasa de Positividad de COVID-19: Número de casos, tasa de positividad y hospitalizaciones en aumento”, lo que se refleja en Michigan, los EE.UU. , y el mundo. Como referencia, en abril pasado, cuando estábamos en el “lockdown” total, Michigan tenía un promedio de alrededor de 1.500 casos nuevos por día; ahora tenemos un promedio de más de 3.000 casos por día y los números están aumentando.

“Es de vital importancia que todos recuerden que la llegada de variantes del coronavirus y las actitudes relajadas prematuramente sobre COVID-19, ponen a nuestra comunidad en grave peligro de un resurgimiento de casos y muertes”, dijo el Dr. Adam London. “Nuestro condado ya ha perdido al menos 656 residentes a causa de esta pandemia. No queremos que nadie más pierda la vida, especialmente cuando estamos tan cerca del final de esta pandemia “. 

El DSCK también anima a los residentes a estar preparados para vacunarse tan pronto como se presente la oportunidad. Los enlaces para la preinscripción en varias clínicas se pueden encontrar aquí.

En este momento, queremos animar a todos los mentores, voluntarios, donantes y miembros de la comunidad a que consulten nuestras reglas originales de COVID-19 para recordar los pasos que estamos tomando para mantener seguros a los estudiantes y las familias.

Además de estas reglas, queremos abordar dos conjuntos de preguntas que hemos recibido:


    Estamos muy agradecidos y entendemos completamente que tenemos mentores que quieren poder reunirse con sus mentoreados en persona después de un año entero separados. Nunca prohibimos las interacciones que los padres/mentores inicien y supervisen entre mentores y aprendices, pero animamos a los mentores a permitir que los padres tomen estas decisiones basándose en la seguridad de ellos mismos y de sus familias, e intervenimos si alguna familia se siente presionada a aprobar o facilitar estas reuniones. Sin embargo, todavía no estamos aprobando las Salidas Independientes patrocinadas por Affinity. Creemos que esto está respaldado por las reglas del CCI que establecen que aún se recomienda que las personas que no pertenecen al mismo hogar solo pasen tiempo juntas sin distanciarse socialmente si ambas personas están completamente vacunadas. Si una pareja de mentor/mentoreado se encuentra en esta situación y desea obtener más información sobre las salidas independientes, comuníquese con la coordinadora de su sitio. Entendemos que existen reglas adicionales para las salidas al aire libre socialmente distanciadas, y vamos a seguir pidiendo que esto sea iniciado por las familias y supervisado por los padres/tutores si se llevan a cabo.


    A las personas les gustaría saber cómo será la mentoría el próximo año; lamentablemente, todavía no tenemos respuestas. Estamos agradecidos de que nuestras escuelas estén esperando para tomar decisiones hasta que tengan la información más actualizada y precisa. No esperamos tener respuestas firmes y finales sobre el tipo de mentoría que haremos el próximo año hasta que estemos mucho más cerca del comienzo del año escolar, pero estaremos preparados para todas las opciones y nos comunicaremos con usted regularmente con cualquier información o actualizaciones que recibamos. Pase lo que pase, estamos preparados y tenemos la experiencia para garantizar que estas relaciones cruciales sigan creciendo.

Muchas gracias por su compromiso con los estudiantes y las familias, para mantener nuestra comunidad segura y saludable, y por su compromiso con Affinity Mentoring. Estamos continuamente agradecidos por usted e inspirados por su entusiasmo, cuidado y dedicación. Para cualquier pregunta o inquietud, comuníquese conmigo directamente a, o al 616-209-8435.

Atentamente, Cassandra Kiger

Plan de Respuesta de Affinity para COVID-19: julio 2020