Affinity Mentoring is THRILLED to announce that we have received a two-year research grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Michigan. It might seem strange that a non-profit offering mentoring services would receive a research grant from a foundation focused on physical health and safety, but Social Determinants of Health have actually shown us that our short and long term health and ability to thrive, even how long we live, are greatly affected by many factors, such as our economic stability, education, and important relationships! For example, did you know that:
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) competence shows benefits such as: improved test scores, grades, attendance, positive social behaviors, and relationships with peers and adults (Durlak et al., 2011; Farrington et al., 2012; Sklad et al., 2012)
SEL has been found to: improve achievement, increase attitudes toward school, and reduce depression and stress (Durlak et al., 2011)
Kindergartners stronger in SEL are more likely to: graduate high school, earn a college degree, and obtain stable employment in young adulthood (Jones, Greenberg & Crowley, 2015)
This is why we are so focused on our key areas of growth at Affinity Mentoring: Social Emotional Learning, Self Esteem, Leadership Development, and Academics; because they all impact each other! Have you ever tried to focus on an important project or difficult task while stressed about an important relationship, or thinking about another hard task you have to complete, or while being afraid that you might fail, or while keeping silent even though you have important information to share with others? How easy is it to complete that project or task? Students are exactly the same. When they are anxious, worried, have low self-esteem, are afraid to speak up, and do not feel as if they have safe relationships with people they can talk to, it is significantly harder for them to focus in school and on academics, and there can be short and long term consequences.
THIS is why we love mentoring; THIS is why it matters so incredibly much; THIS is why an organization like the BCBS Foundation of Michigan recognizes the long term positive impact that mentoring can have on student health. Visit our website to learn how you can be a part of something with incredible impact and potential in the lives of students and families.
MEETING A COMMUNITY NEED 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!
LAUNCHING THE STEERING COMMITTEE 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 LANDERO | GLPS Student
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 MEZA | GLPS Alumna
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 PLUM | GLPS Teacher
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 VELASQUEZ | GLPS Student
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 ZAMORA | GLPS Student
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."
KEY FACTORS TO HIGHLIGHT:
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
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)
While launching our updated mission and vision statements in January 2021 we realized that we needed to be held actively accountable to these statements by opening ourselves up to feedback, critique, and ideas in new and regular ways. We cannot fulfill our mission and vision without listening to our community members.
As we dream past these pandemic days, anticipating new challenges and opportunities, we launched a new Community Listening Survey as a step in creating a regular cycle of public feedback on our work, and giving power to the community to speak into where we will direct our resources and which projects we will prioritize.
In three weeks we received nearly 100 public submissions;
22% of which came directly from families with students receiving mentoring; and
34% of which were from current or past mentors.
We acknowledge and validate that simply collecting public survey data is not enough, and is regularly used to give organizations credibility while continuing with their own agendas, and/or to strip the wisdom and learned experience from community members without acknowledgement or compensation.
Therefore, we commit to the following standards and invite you to tell us if we are not holding ourselves accountable to them:
To take all feedback seriously;
To review all feedback equitably, giving the highest regard to the ideas and opinions of those most directly impacted by our work;
To view all feedback and experiences as valid and true, never dismissing someone because they hold a different experience than someone else or even the majority;
To consistently and regularly find opportunities to adjust and direct our programming as requested by the community;
To regularly pair our own explanation of our work alongside the community’s evaluation of our work, including critique;
To work to avoid exploiting community wisdom and talent without compensation by being clear about the use of research, how it will impact the community, what we intend to do with data, and offering compensation for expertise whenever possible;
To never assume that we are experts in someone else’s life experience, but to allow each person to be the expert of their own experience.
We are grateful for our community and feel honored to be able to partner alongside organizations, community members, schools, families, and students towards more equitable futures for young people.
We are committed to building and maintaining a sustainable, high quality mentoring program that positively impacts our community. We value openness and transparency in our work – to see all of our annual reports, audited financial statements, and any other pertinent materials visit our Impact + Reports page.
Mission, Mutual Liberation, and BLM: A Letter from Affinity’s Executive Director
On June 1, like many local and national organizations, Affinity Mentoring made a public statement supporting Black Lives Matter (BLM). We struggled with the decision of whether or not to release a statement, not because we don’t fully support it, but because a statement is just words unless there is action and accountability behind it. We decided to publicly show our support for BLM to hold ourselves accountable, lean into our mission, and leverage our networks and resources to encourage others to do so. Included in our statement we wrote:
“We believe an individual’s ability to provide for their family, have access to basic resources, and an opportunity for equitable education are all pieces of this broader work. Over 80% of the students and families that partner with Affinity identify as people of color, and over 80% are economically disadvantaged; this is not a coincidence (Learn more about equitable economic growth and access to capital).”
Additionally, our website reads: “[w]e work towards the mutual liberation of all community members and believe that youth are already leaders and community members, but need equitable access and platforms to use their voice.” This verbiage is based on a quote by Lilla Watson, an Indigenous Australian artist and activist who stated, “[i]f you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
As we continue to internally scrutinize our work and identify our blindspots and where we have room for improvement, one key area is in how we spend our dollars, and deciding to intentionally reinvest back into the communities we partner alongside. We have taken advantage of the Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses’ (GRABB) #30days30dollars challenge to hold ourselves publicly accountable to making financial decisions that support Black lives.
In GRABB’s words, “[t]he challenge aims to promote Black-owned businesses across the city and increase dollars flowing to the businesses and communities they are located in. By shifting your dollars to Black Businesses you will be playing a vital role improving the quality of life in economically marginalized neighborhoods in Grand Rapids while purchasing great products and services.”
We want to make it clear that this is not charity or philanthropy work. We need these services and products, we investigated who had the ability to provide quality services and products, and Black-owned businesses have earned our capital. During the month of September Affinity Mentoring spent $3,898 at local, Black-owned businesses, and between last quarter and this quarter we will have spent $5,845 at local, Black-owned businesses. As September comes to a close and the #30days30dollars challenge ends we call on individuals, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations to consider not only how programming and products impact our community, but how expenditures can contribute towards greater wealth divides or greater equity amongst community members; our mutual liberation depends upon our conscious decisions.
Below is a list of businesses that Affinity has or will receive excellent products and services from; we highly recommend each of them. We invite the community to continue to hold us accountable and continue challenging us on ways that we can improve living out our belief that Black Lives Matter. We also gratefully accept recommendations or new ideas for how we can continue to spend our money at Black-owned businesses.
We highly recommend the Cookie Baking Kits for a team building activity to do in-person or virtually, individually wrapped snacks for in-person events, and they will be a featured part of our Cuentos y Comida event goodie bags.
They will be running our online Cuentos y Comida event; tune in to see their amazing skills.
Grounded In Equity
Christine Mwangi is highly experienced in leading teams through diversity, equity and inclusion work, and she will be supporting our team as we work to build better DEI practices into our long-term strategic planning. Contact her at email@example.com.
Medra’s Art by Medra Stoner
Medra Stoner, a local mix-media artist, completed two commissioned pieces that now hang in the Affinity Mentoring Goei Center office. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @medras_art.
At Affinity, we work towards the mutual liberation of all of our community and believe that youth are already leaders and community members, but need equitable access and platforms to use their voice. Affinity’s mentoring model provides individual, one hour per week mentoring with trained, safe, supportive adults to support the growth of leadership and social-emotional skills, as well as math and literacy skills.
“We collaborate closely with school administration, community partners, and community members that share our values to build close relationships and are strategically involved in area schools in a manner that strives to advance equity. Our partners help recruit mentors, financially support our program, and advocate for our organization,” explains Cassandra Kiger, executive director of Affinity Mentoring. “We have nearly 30 local partners, including Gordon Food Service, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Steelcase Foundation, and Kent School Services Network.”
For the past eight weeks the Affinity team has worked tirelessly to develop accessible, equitable, and safe methods for all mentors and mentees to continue meeting weekly from the safety of their homes, and/or with students in clean, individual spaces in mentor centers. “The overall cost of this overhaul in staff time and material resources has been approximately $30,000 above and beyond regular programming costs, but we believe that it is worth all students safely having access to mentoring, and we recognize the long-term investment that we are making in accessibility and technology,” explains Cassandra.
We shared our need for COVID relief and virtual mentoring support and our partners at Gordon Food Service (GFS) immediately stepped up to help. Despite being financially affected themselves by the pandemic, GFS committed to supplying 60 devices for our Mentor Centers. (Though students receive devices through their school, each household has a different level of technological fluency. Devices will be provided to families who specifically site issues with technology navigation as a barrier to virtual mentoring, as these devices will be specifically preprogrammed with all technology necessary for mentoring.) This equates to roughly $12,000 in technology support, not including the countless hours their IT department spent to ensure the computers were ready for students and mentors. GFS has been one of Affinity’s community partners since 2015 and the number of employees that volunteer as mentors has grown exponentially (8 to 84).
“Our [company] culture is reflective of our values. The Gordons are an amazing family and [Affinity Mentoring] ties in closely with the values of GFS,” says Dave Veldink, NA Director of Marketing and Merchandising Operations at Gordon Food Service and longtime mentor at Affinity.
Not only are employees encouraged to volunteer, but leadership at GFS has done everything to remove obstacles from employees who would like to be mentors. This includes being flexible about scheduling accommodations for mentors and not requiring hourly employees to clock out during their mentoring hours.
“We are proud to support Affinity Mentoring as an organization, but it’s our caring volunteer mentors that are the heart of our effort,” explains Rich Wolowski, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gordon Food Service (GFS). “This recent donation of technology will help ensure kids continue to connect with and build relationships with their mentors, to the social and academic benefit of the students, their families, and our community.”
At Affinitywe are grateful for our partners, like Gordon Food Service, who find innovative ways to leverage their resources, social capital, and network to support mentoring. To find out more about becoming a community partner click here.
Affinity is accepting applications for new mentors for Fall 2020. Our goal is to recruit 100 new mentors by September 9 and we currently need 53 more!
Become a Mentor | Apply Now > No prior mentoring experience is needed and we match people based on their interests, personalities, and background! Last year we matched 286 students with a mentor, our goal this year is 300. The online application takes less than 10 minutes. Once you have applied you will be contacted by one of our program staff to schedule an in-person interview. For the health and safety of students and mentors, this year mentoring will be virtual (learn more).
Commitment One hour per week (during the school day 8am-4pm) for one school year (late September – late May). We cater to working professionals and can be flexible and reschedule sessions.
Kent District Library (KDL) has been an excellent partner alongside Affinity Mentoring for the past year. “KDL leadership is proud to support Affinity Mentoring and grow our partnership this fall. All KDL employees are encouraged to become mentors. To help make this a reality all KDL employees can use one paid hour of time each week to mentor,” explains Brian Mortimore, Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development at KDL and mentor at Burton Elementary.
“Promoting literacy skills is what we’re all about so it was a natural fit for KDL to partner with Affinity Mentoring and encourage our staff to mentor young people and we’re proud to continue that tradition in the year ahead,” continues Brian.
KDL plans to help recruit more employees this year even though mentoring will look at bit different. For the health and safety of students and mentors, this year mentoring will be in a virtual format (read more on virtual mentoring). However, what hasn’t changed is the support, “mentors will continue to have extensive support from site coordinators at each school, and support students in building skills in leadership, self-confidence, literacy and math,” says Cassandra Kiger, Executive Director of Affinity Mentoring.
Last year 8 KDL employees served as mentors and we want to highlight what a few had to say about their experience.
Julie Cook | Wyoming Assistant Branch Librarian “My favorite memory with my mentee is doing hands-on literacy activities, fooling them that we are just playing a game, but in reality, we are practicing important literacy skills. I would highly suggest that KDL employees take the opportunity to be a positive role model in a child’s life, especially if they are located near your KDL branch. You can promote KDL materials and programing ideas to a child. It really shows that an adult in her life, outside of her family, really cares for their success socially, emotionally, and academically.”
Anjie Gleisner | Wyoming Branch Manager “As a youth librarian turned library manager, I often miss reading to my story time kiddos! It’s wonderful to be able to share books with a child again. Mentoring has been a great way to establish a connection with a school near my library and it’s a wonderful change of pace to my work week. It’s something that I have always wanted to do but could not because of my work schedule. My employer allowed me the flexibility to do this during the workday. This was a huge plus! It’s something that I look forward to every week.”
Affinity Mentoring is committed to the health and safety of our students, volunteers, and staff. We continue to keep up to date with the most recent directives from Governor Whitmer, Kent County Health Department, and schools partners (Grand Rapids Public Schools and Godfrey-Lee Public Schools). We are using the MI Safe Schools: Michigan’s 2020-21 Return to School Roadmap to plan out health and safety measures we need to safely run mentoring this fall. The Roadmap provides required, strongly recommended, and recommended safety protocols to keep school communities safe based on the local status of the coronavirus. Additionally, the Roadmap provides recommendations across mental and social-emotional health, instruction, and operations within each phase of the MI Safe Start Plan to support all schools in Michigan as they continue their return to school planning and move towards implementation.
Health and Safety Recommendations
As stated in the Roadmap, “The effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minority groups and vulnerable populations are still emerging; however, current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups. Evidence also indicates that access to technology—devices and high-speed internet—is correlated to race and socioeconomic status which is likely to manifest in learning loss amongst vulnerable populations.”
Over 80% of the students and families we partner with at Affinity identify as people of color and are financially disadvantaged. We are committed to implementing all required and strongly recommended protocols, and as many recommended safety protocols as resources allow to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 to our students and families that are most vulnerable in the community. Additionally we make the following commitments as we continue to navigate this pandemic alongside the community:
HEALTH PRACTICES: We will follow all of the most up to date health practices and recommendations as communicated by Governor Whitmer and the Kent County Health Department.
PARTNERSHIP: We will work closely with all of our community partners and, if they have more restrictive COVID-19 prevention policies, we will rise to their standards.
SAFETY: We will not allow any staff or mentor to be in the school buildings or meet one-on-one with students who, at the time of the meeting, tests positive for COVID-19, is symptomatic, or has knowledge of being around a COVID-19 positive individual in the past two weeks.
EQUITY: We will continue to support our community partners, students, and families through this time and provide resources and assistance as needed and able while maintaining and increasing our focus on equity through this process.
WORKING REMOTELY: Affinity Mentoring staff will continue to work remotely until it is safe for all industries to return to work. Staff are available via email. General questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At this time we are preparing our programming to take place under Phase 4 (or less) of the Roadmap which recommends that schools be open for in-person instruction with more stringent safety protocols. In this Phase we can anticipate short-term dismissals, suspension of extracurricular activities, and reducing non-essential personnel in the building.
Keeping this in mind, it is our plan to move forward with the 2020-2021 mentoring program, however it will be converted to a virtual format. At this time we do not have all of the details but we are committed to providing:
students with the technology needed to connect virtually with their mentor*;
full site coordination and support for mentors and mentees in relationship building and technology use; and
adapting orientation, information sessions, and ongoing training to virtual models.
*Mentors will be asked to provide their own device with audio/video capabilities and access to the internet. We will have more detailed information and instructions available mid-August. If mentors have any immediate concerns about this, please contact us at email@example.com.
Virtual Mentoring Costs
We are committed to providing mentoring services at no cost to families, students, or our school partners. There is a significant start-up cost for adapting our in-person mentoring program to a virtual platform. To learn more about our financial needs and how you can help check out our COVID-19 Relief Blog.
Questions or Concerns? Please direct your questions to the following people:
We will continue to share updates and resources with our families, students, volunteers, and community via email, our website, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages.
During this uncertain time, we ask that you continue to support the work of Affinity Mentoring and other nonprofits in our community. Your support through finances and time is more important than ever.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding during these challenging times.
Affinity Mentoring está comprometido a la buena salud y la seguridad de nuestros estudiantes, voluntarios y personal. Seguimos actualizándonos con las directivas más recientes de la Gobernadora Whitmer, el Departamento de Salud del Condado de Kent y los socios de las escuelas (Escuelas Públicas de Grand Rapids y Escuelas Públicas de Godfrey-Lee). Estamos utilizando la Guía MI Safe Schools: Michigan’s 2020-21 Return to School Roadmap para planificar las medidas de salud y seguridad que necesitamos para llevar a cabo la mentoría de manera segura este otoño. La Guía proporciona protocolos de seguridad requeridos, altamente recomendados y recomendados para mantener a las comunidades escolares seguras de acuerdo con el estatus local del coronavirus. Además, la Guía proporciona recomendaciones sobre salud mental y socioemocional, instrucción y operaciones dentro de cada fase del Plan de Inicio Seguro de MI para apoyar a todas las escuelas en Michigan a medida que continúan la planificación para regresar a la escuela y avanzan hacia la implementación.
RECOMENDACIONES DE SALUD Y SEGURIDAD
Como se indica en la Guía, “Los efectos de COVID-19 en la salud de los grupos minoritarios raciales y étnicos y las poblaciones vulnerables aún están en estatus emergente; sin embargo, los datos actuales sugieren una carga desproporcionada de enfermedad y muerte entre los grupos minoritarios raciales y étnicos. La evidencia también indica que el acceso a la tecnología (dispositivos e Internet de alta velocidad) está correlacionado con la raza y el estado socioeconómico que probablemente se manifieste en la pérdida de aprendizaje entre las poblaciones vulnerables.”
Más del 80% de los estudiantes y las familias con las que apoyamos en Affinity se identifican como personas de color y están en desventaja financiera. Estamos comprometidos a implementar todos los protocolos requeridos y altamente recomendados, y tantos protocolos de seguridad recomendados como permitan nuestros recursos para minimizar el riesgo de exposición al COVID-19 para nuestros estudiantes y familias que son más vulnerables en la comunidad. Además, asumimos los siguientes compromisos a medida que continuamos navegando esta pandemia junto con la comunidad:
PRÁCTICAS DE SALUD: Seguiremos todas las prácticas y recomendaciones de salud más actualizadas según lo comunicado por la Gobernadora Whitmer y el Departamento de Salud del Condado de Kent.
COLABORACIÓN: Trabajaremos en colaboración con todos nuestros socios de la comunidad y, si tienen políticas de prevención COVID-19 más restrictivas, alcanzaremos hasta sus estándares.
SEGURIDAD: No permitiremos que ningún miembro del personal o mentor esté en los edificios de la escuela o se reúnan uno a uno con estudiantes que, en el momento de la reunión, den positivo por COVID-19, tengan sintomáticos o tengan conocimiento de estar cerca de un COVID -19 individuo positivo en las últimas dos semanas.
EQUIDAD: Continuaremos apoyando a nuestros socios comunitarios, estudiantes y familias durante este tiempo y proporcionaremos recursos y asistencia según sea necesario y posible mientras mantenemos y aumentamos nuestro enfoque en la equidad a través de este proceso.
TRABAJANDO DE FORMA REMOTA: El personal de Affinity Mentoring continuará trabajando de forma remota hasta que sea seguro para todas las industrias volver a trabajar. El personal está disponible por correo electrónico. Las preguntas generales pueden dirigirse a firstname.lastname@example.org.
En este momento, estamos preparando nuestra programación para la Fase 4 (o menos) de la Guía que recomienda que las escuelas estén abiertas para la instrucción en persona con protocolos de seguridad más estrictos. En esta Fase podemos anticipar despidos a corto plazo, la suspensión de actividades extracurriculares y la reducción de personal no esencial en el edificio.
Teniendo esto en cuenta, es nuestro plan avanzar con el programa de mentoría 2020-2021, sin embargo, se convertirá a un formato virtual. En este momento no tenemos todos los detalles, pero estamos comprometidos a proporcionar:
a los estudiantes la tecnología necesaria para conectarse virtualmente con su mentor*;
coordinación completa del sitio y apoyo para mentores y mentorizados en el desarrollo de relaciones y el uso de tecnología; y
adaptación de la orientación, sesiones de información y capacitación continua a modelos virtuales.
*Se pedirá a los mentores que proporcionen su propio dispositivo con capacidades de audio/video y acceso al Internet. Tendremos información más detallada e instrucciones disponibles al medio de agosto. Si los mentores tienen alguna inquietud inmediata en este respecto, contáctenos en email@example.com.
COSTE DE MENTORÍA VIRTUAL
Estamos comprometidos a proporcionar servicios de mentoría sin costo para las familias, los estudiantes o nuestros socios escolares. Existe un costo inicial considerable para adaptar nuestro programa de mentoría en persona a una plataforma virtual. Para obtener más información sobre nuestras necesidades financieras y cómo puede ayudar, consulte nuestro blog de Apoyo para COVID-19.
¿Preguntas o preocupaciones? Dirija sus preguntas a las siguientes personas:
Mentores, mentorizados o miembro de la familia que regresan: póngase en contacto directamente con la coordinadora de su sitio
Continuaremos compartiendo actualizaciones y recursos con nuestras familias, estudiantes, voluntarios y la comunidad por correo electrónico, nuestro sitio de web, Facebook y LinkedIn.
Durante este tiempo incierto, le pedimos que continúe apoyando el trabajo de Affinity Mentoring y otras organizaciones sin fines de lucro en nuestra comunidad. Su apoyo a través de las finanzas y su tiempo es más importante que nunca.
Gracias por su continuo apoyo y comprensión durante estos tiempos difíciles.
Sitting outside the Mentor Center at Burton Elementary, James and Jerry are intently working on an i-Pad. A victory sound chimes, Jerry eagerly turns to James with a huge grin and begins a celebratory dance in his chair. James congratulates Jerry on completing Level 8, a challenging activity to master “Silent E” (an activity assigned to the match by Jerry’s second grade teacher, Ms. Almanza).
The two are in their second year of mentoring. Jerry is cheerful, funny, and talkative. His mom, Blanca, enrolled him in the program because she wanted him to have a mentor to help him build confidence in speaking and have a positive role model.
James works at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and heard about the opportunity to mentor through his colleague, Jason Loepp. Jason leads the BCBSM partnership, is an Affinity board member, and has been a mentor for the past 5 years. After learning about James’ background in nonprofit management, after-school programming, and love for the community he encouraged him to apply.
“It’s the highlight of my week,” explains James. “After a long work week, I look forward to our Friday mentoring sessions to share jokes and laugh,” he smiles. James is originally from the Lansing area and spent several years working in Detroit through MSU Extension. He and his wife, Samantha, moved to Grand Rapids a few years ago to work for BCBSM. The community partnership with Affinity made it easy for him to participate, “BCBSM gives volunteer hours. They are very open to volunteerism and being part of the community. I just had to let leadership know.”
Jerry’s favorite thing to do together is read the “Fly Guy Series” (if you’re unfamiliar with what kids are reading these days, this popular series follows the adventures of a kid, Buzz, and his pet fly, Fly Guy, as they navigate daily life challenges). Jerry and James are often found in heated (yet playful) debates on which one of them is more like Buzz or Fly Guy.
James and Jerry have strengthened their friendship over the last two school years. “I see his confidence and best-self coming out. We play a lot of soccer, read books, and we work through things when he’s upset, often talking about Fly Guy,” says James.
With two young children of his own and full-time job, James is very intentional about making time for mentoring each week, “My job is chaotic, but I just make it work. When I’m here I make sure I’m present in the moment and attentive. I shut everything else out.”
James appreciates the staff support and says, “It’s been really helpful. Rocio does a great job of letting me know if Jerry and his family are coming to an event or if I miss a progress report.” This year his goal is to get Jerry more engaged in the mentoring events that happen.
“We’re always working together,” explains Jerry. “He helps me learn new words.” He describes James as “nice, helpful, and kind” and he looks forward to his weekly mentoring. Jerry says, “If we stopped meeting I would feel sad. I was waiting for like a year to have a mentor. I feel really happy together. It’s a lot of fun.”
Affinity would like to introduce our two newest board members, Jatnna Abreu and Veronica Bradford.
JATNNA was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and moved to Grand Rapids at the age of 14. She has a Bachelors in Business Administration from Grand Valley State University and a Masters in Organizational Development from Western Michigan University. Jatnna currently works at Amway as a Senior Talent Management Specialist in Human Resources. She is the Vice Chair of Amway’s Multicultural Inclusion Network and will be the incoming 2020 Chair. Jatnna was recently recognized by the Grand Rapids Business Journal as a 2019 GRBJ 40 Under 40 Honoree. During her free time she mentors through Affinity Mentoring at Southwest Community Campus and serves on the board of a small international non-profit organization called Changing Thirsty Lives. Jatnna loves spending time with her husband and three year old son.
VERONICA is the Diversity & Inclusion Specialist at Gordon Food Service where she supports the delivery of the North American Diversity & Inclusion strategy. Veronica is active in her community, as evident in her work and commitment to organizations such as Jack and Jill of America Inc. where she is a member and serves as Program Director for the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter, and member of Women United – Heart of West Michigan United Way. Veronica has supported Affinity’s work as a partner through her work at Gordon Food Service as well as Jack and Jill of America Inc. She is a 2011 graduate of Heart of West Michigan United Way Project Blueprint as well as 2016 graduate of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Leading Edge Program. Veronica and her husband, Derek, have two sons Grayson and Easton. In her spare time, she loves to enjoy time with her family and travel.
We’re thrilled to have these amazing and talented community leaders join our board of directors, welcome! If you’re interested in joining our board get more information here.
Recruit, screen, train, and match 30 mentors with a student
Stock the Mentor Center with games, activities, crafts, books, and other resources
Provide ongoing match support to retain and support students and their mentors
So far, 17 kindergarteners and first graders have been matched with a mentor, but there is still a need. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, apply here.
The Wyoming Community Foundation, a regional affiliate of Grand Rapids Community Foundation, evaluates local needs and opportunities and looks to fund projects that address the areas of art & culture, community development, education, environment, health, or social needs.
If you or your organization would like to support Affinity’s expansion to Wyoming please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our Community Partners Page.