2022 Community Listening Project

January 3, 2022

Affinity Mentoring is accepting responses for its 2nd Annual Community Listening Project. Responses will be accepted in English and Spanish until January 28, 2022.

The purpose of this survey is to collect feedback, critique, and ideas from mentors, partners, families, and community members. The data will be used to help our team direct our resources and prioritization of projects.

The survey will take approximately 4 minutes. TAKE THE SURVEY

View last year’s responses here.

Affinity Leadership Resignation

January 3, 2022

Affinity Mentoring announces the resignation of Cassandra Kiger as Executive Director. She will transition out of her role in May, 2022. 

“I am choosing to view it as an incredible joy that leaving this position, this team, and this organization is so hard. I can say, without question, that this has been the greatest opportunity for personal and professional learning and growth that I have ever been offered, and that this is the best team that I have been privileged to work beside and learn from. It is with sadness and regret that I prepare to leave, but exciting things are coming as my spouse and I will be moving to Israel where I will be studying at Hebrew University of Jerusalem to obtain an MA in Human Rights and Transitional Justice.”

Affinity’s Board of Directors is conducting a search to find the new executive director [see Job Posting].

Cassandra stepped into the role of Executive Director in the height of the pandemic in May of 2020. Under her leadership, the organization launched a new Mission and Vision, developed and implemented a new 3 Year Strategic Plan, received accreditation as a BBB Charity, opened two new mentoring sites, and strengthened the infrastructure and sustainability of the organization (read more in the 2020-2021 Annual Report).

“Most importantly, I want to make abundantly clear that no single individual leads an organization. Affinity Mentoring is made up of a team of skilled, intelligent, creative, innovative humans whose time and effort each day make our work amazing, and provide desired and needed support in our community. I want to personally thank Rocio, Angela, Keyla, Monica, Holly, and Rachel, as well as our entire board of directors, for putting your trust in me, for not saying no to every crazy new idea, and for putting students, families, and their needs first and foremost in everything we do,” says Cassandra.

“The board of directors are very grateful to Cassandra for her leadership and vision to help bring Affinity Mentoring to new heights, and we wish her well in her next chapter. We will miss her work and what she has brought to Affinity. At the same time, we are confident in the ability of the staff, board members, partners, and volunteers to build upon the great successes Cassandra has helped build and we look forward to what we will accomplish next,” says John Robinson, president of Affinity’s Board of Directors.

Download the Press Release.

View the Executive Director Job Posting and Application.

Welcome, Mayra!

December 31, 2021

Mayra Rodriguez, Office Coordinator

Welcome Mayra Rodriguez, Affinity’s New Office Coordinator!

Mayra has a passion for working with people and has dedicated over 15 years to serving her community in various capacities–from creating community awareness events in the greater Grand Rapids area, volunteering as a Sunday school teacher at her church, to missionary work in Mexico.
Mayra is the owner and creative mind behind May Bella Photography and loves bringing smiles to the faces of those she photographs. Mayra is always looking for opportunities to learn and grow her skills. She is currently working towards  gaining more knowledge in the communication and human behavior realm.
Mayra is an aspiring writer and is working on her very first book as well as becoming a motivational speaker. Besides the passion she has for her community, Mayra enjoys  spending time with her family, singing, photography, arts and crafts, meditation, and traveling.

Welcome to the team, Mayra!

Response to Oakland School Shooting

December 8, 2021 | By Cassandra Kiger

Sad. Angry. Frustrated. Overwhelmed. Devastation. Loss of Words. Grief. Scared. 

As our Affinity Mentoring team discussed the most recent school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, these were the feelings we talked about:

  • How unbelievable this feels to have to consider when sending students to school, and also how obviously this will keep happening until something systemic changes;
  • the immediate repercussions we witnessed in our partner schools as other students, young and old, all clearly hurting and without means to accurately and safely communicate their needs, imitated what they heard and saw;
  • the lack of resources schools have to address the underlying needs and concerns behind these events, and our fears that more resources will be directed towards policing and suspensions rather than mental health resources and supports;
  • how desperately we want to galvanize the resources at our own disposal to make sure no student, ever, feels that they are without hope, resources, or a trusted someone to talk to and express their feelings, their fears, their hopes, and their needs to. 

We want to affirm your right and your need to experience so many feelings in times like these. Hard feelings. Uncomfortable feelings. Overwhelming feelings. Conflicting feelings. Feelings that make you feel embarrassed. Feelings that are different from those around you. We have to stop repressing our feelings and our grief, and we need to practice safely and appropriately expressing them. We need to demonstrate and model to the students around us that feelings are okay, they are normal, we all have them. And we need to model to students around us what to do with feelings; not to shove them down, not to ignore them until it’s too late, not to use them for pain or harm to others, but to express them in safe and healthy ways. 

There are no doubts that math and literacy are critical for the future of students, our community, and our world. But math and literacy at the expense of mental and physical health and safety are irrelevant. Our book-smarts will not matter if we do not know how to communicate with each other, resolve conflict, create boundaries for ourselves and others, express our needs and feelings, get support, and experience a full range of emotions. These things, too, are absolutely critical. Will you join us in treating them like they are? Sometimes it can feel scary or overwhelming to talk about mental health and violence. We want to support you with resources and tools. 

It is always ok to talk to someone about whether or not they are having thoughts about harming themselves or others. Talking with them about it does not increase their chances of causing harm to someone, it actually decreases it.

If you or someone you know is at risk of harming yourself/themselves or others, you can visit the Pine Rest Psychiatric Urgent Care Center at: 

  • Pine Rest Mental Health Services
  • Building E, Entrance E1
  • 300 68th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI

Or call them at 616.455.9200 or visit pinerest.org/urgent. They are open everyday except on major holidays. 

Seeking out mental health services like therapy or counseling is never weak. It takes incredible strength and bravery to admit when you could use extra support. No matter what gender you identify as, what race or ethnicity you identify as, where you are from, or what you were taught (or not taught) about mental health, we support you. You are brave. You are worth it. 

  • You can support students by  advocating for more in school resources to support student mental health and social emotional learning, rather than increased policing. 
  • Sign up for our newsletter at affinitymentoring.org to learn about ways to support students and families, and things that impact our mental health and social-emotional well-being every month, and follow up on Facebook and Instagram for weekly tips and reminders. 

Our Mission is to facilitate equitable growth in academics, social emotional skills, and self-esteem through mutually beneficial mentoring relationships. We believe in cultivating a brave space that amplifies the voices of young agents of change in a diverse and inclusive community.

Our vision is to be a leading nonprofit for fostering belonging alongside young people, families, and community.

Affinity Receives BBB Accreditation

November 2021

Affinity Mentoring has met the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability and earned its status as a BBB Accredited Charity. BBB Accreditation confirms that organizations have the policies and practices in place to be the best stewards of the donations it receives.

We are proud to have received approval from the Better Business Bureau, whose vision is of, “[a]n ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other.” We agree with this vision, and offer this as another opportunity and avenue for the public to provide us feedback on our work and keep up accountable to our commitments in our Strategic Plan to “create regular cycles of public feedback on our work, and give power to the community to speak into where we will direct our resources and which projects we will prioritize.”

For more detailed information and upcoming opportunities to provide feedback on our work, look for the 2022 Community Listening Project launch in the new year.