Community Listening Project: Data Released

March 2021

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. 

Community Listening Project Results
January 2021 Project Summary [English]
One Page Highlights [English]

January 2021 Project Summary [Spanish]
One Page Highlights [Spanish]

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

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. 

Diatribe Artwork through Woosah Collaboration

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. 

Sincerely,

Cassandra Kiger, Executive Director

Local Black-Owned Businesses: 

  • Daddy’s Dough Cookies
    • 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.
  • Shannon Cohen, Inc. 
    • Not only do we keep a stash of Shannon Cohen cards for every occasion in the office, but four staff members attended the Rockstar Woman Brunch 2020.
  • Malamiah Juice 
    • A featured part of our Cuentos y Comida goodie bags, part of our staff “Shout Out” prizes, and they make excellent booster shots to keep our team healthy.
  • Rising Grinds Cafe 
    • We encourage teammates to recognize each other’s achievements for a chance to win local gift cards! Also, don’t miss the mouth watering Rising Grinds Soul Food Menu.
  • Mosby’s Popcorn 
    • Their Social Pop program will be a featured part of our Cuentos y Comida goodie bags. 
  • Genesis Consulting Group 
    • 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 groundedinequity@gmail.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.
  • The Diatribe
    • The Diatribe collaborated with Woosah to create a series of posters in support of Black Lives Matter. Four of these posters hang in the Affinity Mentoring Goei Center office.

For a more comprehensive list of Black-owned businesses check out GRABB’s Directory.

Advancing Equity through Innovative Partnerships

By Rachel Humphreys

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.”

This year we have worked extremely hard to rebuild and innovatively rethink our entire approach to mentoring in the most equitable way possible. As we reviewed community feedback and local data on health and safety, as well as personal fears surrounding COVID of various populations (Kent County Racial/Ethnic Data) (Kent Co. Latinos with COVID Die Younger and More Often) (African Americans Disproportionately Affected), we quickly realized that traditional mentoring would no longer be accessible to all students. 

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). 


Dave Veldink + Student Mentee

“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 Affinity we 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!

Laurie Vanderbroek + Student Mentee

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.

Mentoring Sites | More Info Here > 

  • Burton Elementary School and Burton Middle School
  • Southwest Community Campus Elementary 
  • Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center 

Kent District Library Partnership

By Rachel Humphreys

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 at Godfrey-Lee ECC

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 at Godfrey-Lee ECC

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.”




Learn more about our community partnerships or sign up to become a mentor.

Affinity Welcomes New Team Member

By Rachel Humphreys

We’re excited to share that we’ve added a new team member, Holly Hetherington! Holly will be filling Affinity’s newly developed role of Office Coordinator. She will assist the Executive Director and Development Director in their new headquarters in the Goei Center. This new role will help increase the teams’ capacity to serve more students in more schools.

Holly holds a Bachelor’s in English, Elementary Education from Grand Valley State University. With a desire to provide social emotional and hands-on learning opportunities for youth and children, she turned her efforts away from the traditional classroom and invested her career in out-of-school time programming. Her passion for equity is at the root of all her work. 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.

Welcome, Holly!

Mentor Story: Cindy + Nicole

By Rachel Humphreys

“When I think of Cindy, I think of a second mom. Mentoring had a huge impact on my life.” 

Nicole was a shy and quiet 3rd grader at Burton Elementary, waiting for a mentor. Cindy was a member of Mars Hill Bible Church, involved in children’s ministry, and her oldest had just graduated high school when she heard about the need for mentors. Although she had never been a formal mentor before, she thought “That’s something I can do.” 

Nicole and Cindy began meeting over the lunch hour. Nicole fondly remembers, “I’d be so excited every week. I’d get to miss class, meet with Cindy, play basketball, and eat McDonalds. I loved it.”

13 years later, Nicole and Cindy are back at Burton Elementary. Nicole smiles as they walk the halls, remembering various classrooms and teachers. Cindy looks up to Nicole, “I don’t remember you being this tall,” she teases. Cindy has journeyed alongside Nicole long past their formal mentoring days and has had the opportunity to see her grow into a strong, adventurous, and brave young woman. Even after Nicole transferred to another school district they remained close. “We committed to each other and built a good relationship,” explains Cindy. More than a decade later they still text, meet to catch up, and connect via social media.

Leaning over a table in the library, the pair laugh like old friends swapping photos – remembering squinty graduation poses, Steak ‘ Shake dates, prom dresses, and their first year of mentoring. “It was really nice to have her there. She was always there for me for a lot of milestones – basketball, graduation, birthdays, prom – just like another family member celebrating with me,” says Nicole.

Every birthday Cindy would take Nicole to Chuck E Cheese to celebrate and she attended as many of Nicole’s basketball and softball games as possible. Nicole was included in many of Cindy’s family events too, like school plays, church, and sport outings. 

“Mentoring is not hard when you have someone like Nicole. However, you don’t necessarily see the effect of it and are unsure if you’re making any difference,” explains Cindy. Although she didn’t know it, Cindy helped shape Nicole’s future path.

“Cindy being my mentor definitely had a huge impact on me. She helped me get out of my shy phase and she helped me find my passion for aviation. I used to want to be a veterinarian, but one summer Cindy helped me get into Grand Valley State University’s STEPS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Preview Summer) Camp.” 

“I love getting my hands dirty, using wrenches, and ratchets. After that STEPS Camp I fell in love with aviation and knew that’s what I wanted to do. I love to just put on my safety glasses and do my thing. It brings me so much joy. Some people my age are still trying to figure out what they want to do; I figured it out in 6th grade thanks to Cindy.”

Once she locked onto her dream, Nicole pursued it with a passion. She took two years of aviation maintenance at Kent County Technical Center (KCTC), earned her Associates Degree in Applied Science at Lansing Community College, and received additional certifications in specialty areas including: general, airframe and powerplant aviation. Listening to Nicole describe her school and excitement for her new job Cindy beams, “I am so proud of her. She’s increased her confidence and I won’t take credit for that. Her mom is so involved, works really hard, and sets a great example.”

Over the past decade Nicole has discovered her passion and strength. Choosing to work in a male-dominated field, she has found herself being the only female in the majority of her aviation classes. “I’m used to it. I’m not worried about handling them,” she laughs confidently. Keeping in line with her adventurous side, Nicole recently relocated to Illinois for a new job. “As an aircraft structural mechanic I’ll be working on commercial aircrafts for Boeing. I’m anxious, but ready to work and I know I’m going to love it,” she beams. 

“Mentoring is such a great opportunity. Not all 3rd graders might think of it like that, but it’s definitely worth it for every student that has the opportunity to try,” says Nicole.

—-

If you’d like to make an impact like Cindy, sign up to mentor here OR if you would like to make a small monthly donation to support students like Nicole, give here.

A Tale of Two Mothers: Debbie + Victoria

By Rachel Humphreys

Debbie, a kind and gentle soul, has been mentoring students for the past decade. She heard about the opportunity through one of Affinity’s partners, Mars Hill Bible Church. “I liked the one-on-one program where you invest in long-term relationships, build trust, and watch them grow.”

Debbie recalls the first few weeks of mentoring, “I was nervous about helping with school stuff and getting more immediate results. Then I realized it’s more of an investment of one hour at a time, it’s building the relationship and the foundation a bit more each visit.”

Victoria, a compassionate and loving person, has four daughters, including Stephanie and Emelinda who have both been part of the mentoring program. She remembers first hearing about the program when Emelinda came home from Kindergarten saying, “Mami, quiero un mentor.” She helped her sign up, however, Victoria never realized what this relationship would blossom into or how their two families would intertwine. 

Emelinda was soon matched with Debbie. Victoria describes Debbie as someone with a huge heart that loves working with kids. She recalls Debbie always being at every event. After a bit of time together, she saw her shy and quiet daughter come out of her shell and become more confident. Emelinda started to play more, talk more, paint, and improve her English.

“[They’re] my surrogate family,” smiles Debbie. “Her mom and I have the same birthday and we always text each other. They are a really nice family that supports each other. I’m glad I can be a part of it and that they trust me.” Victoria agrees, “God put her in our path, she is part of our family and my daughters are really happy with her. Every time our birthday comes around we ask each other – so where are we going to celebrate?”

“Debbie gives good advice, like another mother, to my daughters, but also to me. She tells me I’m doing a good job, to be patient, and not to worry because I’m a good mom. No one has ever told me that before, not even my own mother. I don’t know whether she is like another mother to my daughters, or to me,” explains Victoria.

After Emelinda and Debbie had been a match for 6 years, it was coming to a close. Emelinda was entering middle school and yearning to spend more time with friends. Debbie and Victoria both felt the change and comforted each other as they saw her pull away, not wanting to talk, and becoming more distant. Debbie wasn’t sure what to do. However, after talking to Affinity staff member, Laura Ward, she helped her understand that she was no longer in need of a mentor and that was OK. Being a mom herself, it finally clicked and she understood not to take it personally, “I thought to myself, ‘I know that age.’”

Victoria remembers, “When [Emelinda] was done with the program I was worried about losing the relationship with Debbie. No one was going to be there helping me, telling me I’m doing a good job. We both cried. I knew, she too, was sad in her heart. We started texting each other. She helped me understand girls go through their changes differently. She kept telling me to be strong, and she would help me. I would repeat it to myself over and over.”

Debbie sees the role of a mentor as an encourager. “I always tell Emelinda ‘You’re so smart, creative, generous, and amazing.’ Later I would hear her repeat it, ‘You know, I am pretty smart and creative.’” Victoria started to feel more confident too, “Now there were two people [Debbie] and I sending Emelinda messages and reinforcing the same thing.”

One day, there was a big surprise for Victoria, “I got her off the bus and she was happy, smiling and said ‘¡Hola Mami!’ and grabbed my hand. Later that evening I sat between my four girls asking them about school.” Emelinda went last, “‘¿Mami, tienes la oportunidad de hablar?’ It was a huge surprise, we talked for over an hour. She recalled Debbie’s talks about how middle school is so different and Emelinda was surprised that everything she said would happen, did.” Afterward they both hugged and finally, turned a corner in their mother-daughter relationship. The first thing Victoria wanted to do was to let Debbie know that she’s going to be OK.

As fate would have it, Emelinda’s younger sister, Stephanie, had been in the mentoring program too. However, due to life circumstances her mentor, Marla, had to leave after a year and Stephanie was devastated. However, Affinity’s Burton site coordinator, Rocio Moreno, recognized this as a great opportunity to bring the two families together again. She reached out to Debbie and Victoria both to see how they felt about matching Debbie with Stephanie – they both wholeheartedly said yes. 

Growing up, Stephanie had known Debbie and attended events with her older sister and Debbie. When Stephanie learned that Debbie would now be HER mentor, she  started jumping around and was so happy. Victoria says, “Now I don’t have to worry about when they are together. I trust her. She is a huge help to my daughters and they have so much fun together.” 

Victoria is a big advocate for mentoring and has already been referring other parents to the program, “Mentors help with the things you can’t teach as a mom or dad. They can play soccer, do different activities, if your kid likes something that you don’t the mentor can do it with them. It’s a whole new experience – for the whole family.”



Ready to start your own journey? Become a Mentor or Sponsor a Mentor Match




*Editor’s Note* As most Affinity’s blog articles are captured, I had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with Debbie and Victoria to hear their story. Victoria’s interview was in Spanish and Debbie’s in English. Neither one speaks the other language. One of the most remarkable things about their relationships is that despite their language barrier, they have developed this deep, lifelong bond. Our team is honored to have the opportunity to play a role in these two families’ journeys and support where we can in cultivating meaningful relationships and experiences.

We Need Male Mentors!

Last month we shared the need for a male mentor to be matched with a 2nd grade student. This student, who is playful, kind, and enjoys basketball, had been on the waitlist for two years and would benefit from having a strong male role model in his life. This post was shared 37 times!

It was only a matter of hours before former mentor, Eric Killgore, reached out to our team. He saw the Facebook post and felt it was a sign. He had been contemplating coming back to mentor, but he has 4 kids of his own and works full time. However, this was the push that he needed. It was a perfect match.

There’s Still a Huge Need

We currently have 16 male students on the waitlist at Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center, waiting for a positive male role model to step up.

BECOME A MENTOR



Meet Our Male Students on the Waitlist:

Z | A playful and funny leader. He is a 1st grader and his primary language is Spanish. He enjoys playing video games and with Legos. His current challenges are in math and reading.

E | A sweet, cooperative, and competitive 1st grader who can use help managing his emotions. He enjoys playing basketball, checkers, relaxing, coloring, and building Legos. Looking for a positive black male role model to help with his social skills, confidence, and following directions.

M | A funny and imaginative 1st grader. He enjoys reading, Minecraft, and building. He is in Special Education and needs help with his ABC’s, reading, and social skills.

D | Respectful, shy, and kind 1st grader whose primary language is English, secondary language is Spanish. He loves building Legos and playing outside. He struggles with anxiety and being separated from his mother, who is very active in his education. His father is deceased and he could use a male role model so that he can feel secure at school without needing his mother present at school and build his confidence.

L | Loving, strong-willed, and fun 1st grader who loves to share and dance. He has ADHD and is on the spectrum for Autism. He enjoys trains, cars, water play and basketball. Having a one-on-one male role model would be a great benefit for him with learning impulse control and getting help with math, writing, and reading.  His dog died in the beginning of the year, his dog was his best friend.  

G | Talkative, funny, kind, and playful 1st grader. He enjoys playing soccer. He is doing good academically but can benefit with help in his reading and spending one-on-one time with a positive male mentor

P | Reserved and strong-willed 5 year old boy in Kindergarten. He loves to build and take things apart. He does well with anything he has an interest in. At times he struggles socially in school. He does very well one-on-one and seeks male bonding.

L | Talkative, loud, playful, imaginative, strong-willed, and curious kindergartener. He loves animals and learning. His dad passed away a year ago in October. He will benefit in having a positive male role model and needs help with reading.

N | Shy, quiet, and reserved 1st grader who enjoys playing with cars, trucks, and playing outdoors. It takes him a while to warm up to people but loves puzzles and could use help with reading and math.

R | Respectful and attentive Kindergartener who loves to play and paint. He is very shy and not very communicative. He would need help with building his social skills and confidence.

I | Talkative, outgoing, responsive, and a hands-on 1st grader. He enjoys playing baseball, video games, and has a great imagination. He is a visual learner who needs help with math.

K | Talkative, strong-willed, playful, and imaginative Kindergartener who enjoys reading, learning, soccer, and basketball. One of his strengths is his creativity.  He is very smart but has a hard time focusing and staying on task.

X | Talkative, playful, imaginative, and emotional Kindergartener who enjoys math, numbers, sports and music. His strength is in counting and math. He can be slightly unfocused, and may have speech problems. He needs help academically in reading and recognizing letters.

G | Talkative, strong-willed, playful, competitive, and energetic 1st grader. He enjoys high energy activities such as sports, biking, swimming and tumbling around. He tends to be very hyper. He needs help with reading and writing.

N | Very active, talkative ,and playful Kindergartener who enjoys playing outside and running. He needs help with recognizing the alphabet. 

A | Talkative, playful and respectful student who loves Black Panther. [We’re working on gathering more information to help match!]

Become a Mentor

If you, or someone you know, are interested in spending one hour a week with one these amazing kids, please contact karaujo@affinitymentoring.org or apply online at https://affinitymentoring.org/mentors/.

Learn about our latest COVID-19 updates and how we are planning to keep students, mentors, and families safe here.

BECOME A MENTOR



Wyoming Community Foundation Supports Expansion

By Rachel Humphreys

The Wyoming Community Foundation has awarded Affinity Mentoring a $2,750 grant to support expansion to Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center in Wyoming, MI. This award will be combined with the support from Molina Healthcare, Steelcase Foundation, and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to:

  • 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 rhumphreys@affinitymentoring.org or check out our Community Partners Page.

Affinity Named “Nonprofit of the Year”

Executive Director, Laura Ward, and Site Coordinator, Rocio Moreno, accept the award on behalf of Affinity.

The Grand Rapids Chamber celebrated the 10th Year of EPIC (Entrepreneurial, Progressive, Innovative, Collaborative), the premier business award celebration that recognizes both the businesses and the individuals that foster community growth, demonstrate innovation, and have championed alongside others as mentors and collaborators in our region at 20 Monroe Live!.

Each award category recognizes those who are leading in growth and innovation, strengthening the business community, enabling collaboration and connections, and accomplishing incredible endeavors with a focus on the future.

This year, over 150 nominations were submitted for consideration. After the selection committee comprised of Grand Rapids business leaders studied the nominees’ newest initiatives, collaborative efforts, impact in the community, and philanthropic vision, 40 finalists were announced in September, and 9 recipients were honored at the EPIC Awards Celebration on Wednesday, October 30 at 20 Monroe Live, including Affinity Mentoring at the “Nonprofit of the Year!”

Executive Director, Laura Ward, accepted the award on behalf of the Affinity team, “We share this win with our 1,700+ students their families and their mentors. We know it takes all of us to lift up children through a supportive network and we’re grateful for our 30+ Community partners that invest in the life of children and sustaining this important work.”

“We’d also like to thank our partner schools, Burton Elementary, Burton Middle School, Southwest Community Campus, and Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center for inviting us to be a part of their school community and walking alongside our work,” says Laura. “Affinity Mentoring values relationships and it starts with our people – our dedicated team members and board members who bring the passion, drive, and commitment to quality mentoring. And we’re just getting started!”

Links to media coverage:

Women’s Lifestyle Magazine

MiBiz

Grand Rapids Chamber