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.

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.

Molina Healthcare Supports Affinity’s New Wyoming Site

Molina Healthcare has awarded Affinity Mentoring $2,500 to support expansion to Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center. Molina’s support will be used to help cover the cost of recruitment, screening, training, and ongoing match support for the new cohort of mentor matches.

“Molina Healthcare of Michigan is proud to support Affinity Mentoring’s new site at Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center. Affinity Mentoring is working to interrupt the cycle of poverty and improve the life of our communities children by pairing kindergartners and first graders with engaging mentors for one hour, once a week. We were impressed to learn that when pairing a child with a quality mentor the student has better attendance, attitudes toward school, chances of going onto higher education, more likely to avoid drug use, stronger relationships with their parents, and better health,” says Heidi McGlinnen AVP Community Engagement of Molina Healthcare of Michigan.

Heidi explains, “At Molina Healthcare, we share similar goals by working every day to reduce barriers to physical and behavioral health care for vulnerable populations. We are committed to working collaboratively with community-based organizations, like Affinity Mentoring, to create communities that are stronger, happier, and healthier.”

Mentor Center Ribbon Cutting at Godfrey-Lee ECC.

Affinity’s expansion to Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center was made possible with seed money from Steelcase Foundation, but it does not cover all of the costs. It is with continued support from individuals and organizations, like Molina and Dollar General, that the new site will be fully supported. [If you would like to help support, donate here.]

First Mentor Match at the ECC!

Approximately 30-40 new volunteers will be recruited, screened and trained in both mentoring and the fundamentals of early literacy. The volunteers will be matched with a student in Kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grade. The mentor will work in collaboration with the teacher and Site Coordinator to support the student in developing his/her literacy skills. The program will be evaluated by looking at number of matches involved, student achievement, student attendance and social emotional skill development. 

Molina’s Story
Affinity Mentoring and Molina Healthcare share many of the same values and are both looking to make a positive impact in under-resourced communities. Molina’s mission is to provide quality health care to people receiving government assistance. Molina was created to fill a need in quality healthcare.

In 1980, emergency room physician, C. David Molina, MD, noticed that low-income, uninsured or non-English speaking patients were coming to the emergency room in need of general health care services. Without family doctors, they were not always getting the right care and information. These underserved families deserved better and Dr. Molina set out to do something about it. He opened a clinic in Long Beach, California to provide low-income individuals and families with a place to go to get personalized health care from Molina doctors. Now, nearly 40 years later Molina has over 3.5 million members and serves communities across the United States.



The Godfrey-Lee site is still in need of more support, you can help!

Dollar General Literacy Foundation Awards Affinity New Grant

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded Affinity Mentoring a $3,000 grant to support youth literacy. This local grant award is part of more than $160 million in grants awarded to nonprofit organizations, libraries and schools across the 44 states that Dollar General serves.

Reading proficiency by 3rd grade is the most important indicator of high school graduation and career success. In 2017, 3rd grade M-STEP data for Kent County indicates that 48.6% of students have achieved proficiency. To help fill this gap, Affinity Mentoring is working alongside, schools, local businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals to lift up students in a supportive network.

The $3,000 grant will be used to support Affinity’s newest mentoring site at Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center in Wyoming, MI. The grant will aid in Affinity’s expansion and build capacity to recruit, train, and match more volunteers to be a caring, positive mentor and literacy support.

Approximately 30-40 new volunteers will be recruited, screened and trained in both mentoring and the fundamentals of early literacy. The volunteers will be matched with a student in Kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grade. The mentor will work in collaboration with the teacher and Site Coordinator to support the student in developing his/her literacy skills. The program will be evaluated by looking at number of matches involved, student achievement, student attendance and social emotional skill development. 

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education. Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $168 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 10 million individuals learn to read, prepare for the high school equivalency, or learn English. 



The Godfrey-Lee site is still in need of more support, you can help!

Godfrey-Lee ECC Site Now Open

On August 14, 2019 Affinity Mentoring officially opened its fourth school partnership. The Grand Rapids Chamber, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Godfrey-Lee Schools, staff, board members, and community members celebrated the opening with an official Ribbon Cutting at Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center [ECC].

The expansion to a fourth school is funded by seed money from the Steelcase Foundation, which helped launch the new site [Read More]. However, the grant does not cover all costs and we are in need of additional sponsors and individual donors to support its continued growth. Read more about Community Partnerships.

Mentoring begins the week of September 16!

Affinity is working with teachers, families, and KSSN staff to refer and match up to 40 Kindergarten and 1st graders this year. To refer a student, click here.

VIEW MORE PHOTOS

Questions?

Contact: Keyla Araujo, Site Coordinator at Godfrey-Lee ECC at karaujo@affinitymentoring.org

Ribbon Cutting at New Site

Affinity Mentoring is pleased to announce that it will be opening its fourth mentoring site at Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center, this fall. To help celebrate this milestone, there will be a ribbon cutting event at Godfrey-Lee ECC, located at 961 Joosten Street, S.W. Wyoming, MI 49509, on August 14, at 3:30pm. Attendees of this event are encouraged to bring one mentoring item to stock the new site such as, books, games or craft supplies. Representatives of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will also participate in the event.

Kevin Polston, Superintendent of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools says, “Godfrey-Lee Public Schools believes in the impact mentoring can have on a child’s education and their overall wellbeing. One of our core values is community, the belief that it takes a village to raise a child. We are honored to begin a partnership with Affinity Mentoring to provide mentoring services at the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center to bring out the brilliance in each child.”

“Schools, teachers, parents, and students from all over our community have been asking for Affinity Mentoring to be available in other schools,” says Laura Ward, Executive Director of Affinity Mentoring. “We’ve been working hard to build the capacity needed to expand the program. We’re thrilled to be able to add another site where students can receive additional academic, social and emotional support and encouragement to reach their full potential.”

Since 2001 the GRPS based mentoring program has matched over 1,800 students. The new site will provide up to 40 more students with a mentor to help them succeed. However, there is still a need for more.

Julie Ridenour, President of the Steelcase Foundation says, “The Steelcase Foundation is honored to support Affinity Mentoring in its measured response to its program expansion. The growing number of requests from families for the mentoring services of Affinity is evidence of the quality of the work done by Affinity’s leadership and volunteers in three of the highest needs Kent County schools. The Steelcase Foundation is appreciative of Affinity’s willingness to base its work on the best available research, rigorous analysis, and growing dedication to improving student literacy achievement.”

The team is in the process of developing a robust fund development plan that includes grants, individual donations, corporate sponsorships, special events, and in-kind donations to ensure sustainability.

Contact: Rachel Lopez, Development Director | 616.406.3967 | rlopez@affinitymentoring.org


Affinity Welcomes Newest Partner, Chemical Bank

We’d like to welcome our newest community partner and sustainer, Chemical Bank! Chemical Bank recently donated $1,000 to Affinity Mentoring to support our mentor matches with the resources needed to be successful!

Our community partnerships are essential to our success! This year we aim to serve 280 students across our 3 sites. Supporting one mentor and their student costs $1,200 each year (includes recruitment, screening, training, and onsite support from highly qualified staff).

We know that high quality mentoring works and we are committed to providing every student with a caring adult mentor that we can. Support our work, like Chemical Bank, and become a Community Partner > 

Questions? Contact Rachel Lopez at rlopez@affinitymentoring.org or 616-406-3967