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Interfaith Hospitality Network

The Interfaith Hospitality Network is a program connecting homeless families with churches and synagogues around Grand Rapids, which provide them with food, shelter and family activities. One of the network’s main priorities is to keep family units intact during stressful and precarious times. 

Healthy U at the YMCA of Grand Rapids

Healthy U, a no-cost wellness and health education program for low-income children (K-12) in the Grand Rapids area, is part of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids’ Healthy Living Hubs. More than 30 schools and community-based centers across greater Grand Rapids host the twice weekly, year-round Healthy U nutrition and fitness sessions.


The safety net provided by S.P.A.R.K.S. (Students Participating in Academics and Recreation for Knowledge and Success), part of the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers project, has caught thousands of students in Clare and Gladwin counties, keeping them from failing or dropping out. Within a school-community framework, kids attend school, feel good about it, and participate with their families in fun, interesting and educational activities during and after school.

Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation

The Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation has made a mission of providing the tools necessary to help public school students reach the height of academic achievement. Community members have embraced the foundation’s work, putting their private dollars on the table for public education.

School Inclusion Program

JARC's School Inclusion Program helps students with disabilities attending Jewish Day schools in southeast Oakland County experience academic and social success. Social workers, classroom assistants, tutors, teacher consultants, behavior specialists, and occupational therapists team up so that Jewish children can learn in an environment that respects cultural values and traditions. 

Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program

The Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit uses after-school tutoring, art therapy, a garden club, and access to an extensive lending library to stretch children’s minds, stimulate creativity, and offer alternatives to violence. 

Drop-in Teen and Youth Writing Workshops

At 826michigan’s Drop-in Teen and Youth Writing Workshops at Ypsilanti Public Libraries, children are allowed to explore writing on their own terms with the gentle guidance and heartfelt support of regular volunteers who share their passion for the written word with students. 

Fun in the Sun Summer Day Camp

Fun in the Sun Summer Day Camp is week-long annual program hosted by United Methodist Community House. It engages Grand Rapids children in a slew of activities from swimming to rock climbing and takes them on outings to museums, farmers markets and area parks. 

Rediscovering School & Community Project

The Rediscovering School & Community Project is a two-year evaluation designed to gather and report data to assess results from the Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center’s use of the Reggio Emilia philosophy of early childhood education. Its findings will be publicized to share with other area learning institutions and facilitators.

Achieving Preschool Excellence (APEX)

At Oakland Family Services’ APEX Preschool Program, not only do Pontiac children have access to a high-quality preschool at low to no cost, they and their families enter a community of caring people who leverage the agency’s resources to ensure each family has what it needs to thrive.  

Maternal Infant Health Program

Cherry Street Health Services in Grand Rapids is one of many Michigan agencies that administers the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Maternal Infant Health Program, which promotes healthy pregnancies and healthy infant development for qualifying families. 

Healthy Food, Healthier Futures Project

Healthy Food, Healthier Futures is a Michigan-based program of the national coalition Healthcare Without Harm, which focuses on greening the health care sector. Healthy Food, Healthier Futures, a project of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, is primarily focused on food and its connection to the health of humans and environment and works to leverage the purchasing power of the health care sector to create a more sustainable food system. 

Girls on the Run of Calhoun County

Training for a 5k run provides the backdrop for the Girls on the Run of Calhoun County’s curriculum. Participants are taught much more than jogging skills. Lessons in independent thinking, problem solving skills, and how to make healthy decisions all foster self-confidence in the 3rd through 5th grade girls.

GRIL U Teen Leadership Program

The GRIL U Teen Leadership Program employs training and leadership work to guide its youth members into lives of community leadership. Program participants are taught to recognize and value their own influence and to use their powerful voice to fight for justice within their communities.

Developing a Community School

The Developing a Community School Project uses a neighborhood-based holistic approach to educate young people at Prairieview Elementary School. This Battle Creek project engages the entire community, including local faith, healthcare and business organizations, to both support and celebrate school and student successes. 
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Bright Ideas


Can systemic racism impact infant mortality?

Even when controlling for poverty, education level, and tobacco use of a mother, maternal and infant health outcomes are far worse for minority populations than European-American women. What's causing the continued disparities? And what can West Michigan do to ensure all babies born here have the best chance of reaching their potential? Zinta Aistars reports on Strong Beginnings, one local program working to give all families a fair start.

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Company Supports 4th Grade Field Trips to Lake Michigan

Parents working more than one job or odd hours, a lack of funds, and no transportation often prevent kids from experiencing one of Michigan’s incredible natural resources. For the majority of west side Grand Rapids elementary school kids, Lake Michigan is sadly out of reach. OST has teamed up with Grand Rapids Public Schools to give fourth-graders at west side schools the opportunity to experience the big lake firsthand.


Youth Decide Where Grant Dollars are Spent

For Grand Rapids students who serve as trustees-in-training on the GRCF Youth Grant Committee, giving back to the community goes hand in hand with empowering students to succeed. 
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