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Peggy Roberts

Power of We Consortium coordinator Peggy Roberts works to improve conditions and access to resources for Ingham, Clinton and Eaton County’s most underserved populations – with social justice, equity and sustainability always at the forefront. 

Mary Gehrig

Mary Gehrig, superintendent for early childhood services at Calhoun Intermediate School District, hesitates to take accolades for her accomplishments; she gladly hands them to her associates. They are the ones, she says, who put visions, plans, ideas, and initiatives into motion to help young people.

Casey Stratton

Casey Stratton, music program coordinator and instructor at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth, strongly believes that music is important to all cultures as a way of expression and to keep their stories alive. He is helping youth create their own stories as they learn music and build relationships with caring adults through the Music Makers program. 

Kathy Catania

Decades ago, Kathy Catania and her husband Jerry laid the groundwork for today’s Benton Harbor arts district. Their pride and joy is housed inside a Victorian building, circa 1898, now home to Main Street Glassworks, where glass is blown, children grow, and art is internationally renowned.

Bonnie Billups, Jr.

Bonnie Billups, Peace Neighborhood Center executive director, is an alumnus who has been involved with Peace since he first participated at ten years old. Billups is a successful, college-educated, professional product of the center’s efforts to keep kids on the right track – a living example of the organization’s long-time efforts to help at-risk Ann Arbor area children achieve their dreams through prevention and education.

Frank McGhee

As the leader of Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiative Project (YIP), Frank McGhee sees the potential of young people from some very tough neighborhoods; he guides them through the process of addressing issues that trouble their community, and they grow as leaders along the way. 

Yvonne Davis

Yvonne Davis retired in 2008 from a career as an elementary teacher and educational administrator, but rejoined the workforce in 2010 with Lift Up Through Literacy, a program of Kalamazoo Public Schools. Since she has always had a focus on family, she considers her executive directorship a dream job, allowing her to connect with parents and children through the program.  

Jo Ann Cribbs

Children need positive role models both inside and outside their families says Jo Ann Cribbs, who oversees youth programming for the Urban League of Battle Creek. While educators play a vital, day-to-day part, Cribbs feels strongly that parents are a child’s strongest influence when it comes to education. Cribbs strives to better the lives of local children and involves parents in programming too. 

Paula Brown

Paula Brown is excited to be the new executive director of Reading Works, an umbrella organization that provides resources to partner nonprofits that are delivering quality literacy programs in metro Detroit. She works with these partners to reach more adult learners and to accurately measure and report on their collective success, with a common goal of bringing every adult up to a minimum ninth grade reading level.

Winona Bynum

Winona Bynum, youth and nutrition programs manager at Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, likens her work in the nonprofit sector to her past work in IT project management. Similar to technology projects, human service programs – like the children’s feeding programs she oversees – need stakeholder input and strong collaborations to be successful. 

Kayla Mason

Raised in South Central Los Angeles, a low-income community where youth face many challenges to success, Kayla Mason found her voice at the young age of 15 advocating for improvements in schools and in the community. While the path to get here has been laced with many organizing victories, she is mighty fired up about her role as director of YOUTH VOICE, an organization of Detroit youth who tackle political and social issues to create change. Mason has even developed her own trademarked model to help youth become agents of change in their own life and in their community. 

Kwamena Mensah

Community organizer, farmer, teacher and change maker are among the hats worn by Kwamena Mensah, agriculture specialist and consultant with Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. As a pioneer in the urban agriculture movement, he has played a huge role in the reform of Detroit’s food system. 

Tori Pelz

CultureWorks Institute for Creative Arts is a Holland-based center with art at its heart and Tori Pelz at its helm. She oversees hundreds of underserved 6th to 12th grade students from the Ottawa and Holland public school districts who come hungry to learn creative arts that they would otherwise not have the chance to experience. 

Dan Varner

Few things are as fundamental to a child’s success as a quality education, and Dan Varner, CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit, is committed to making sure all Detroit children attend a school that helps them achieve their dreams and reach their potential. 

Sarah Lenhoff

As a teacher in New York City Public Schools in the early 2000s, Sarah Winchell Lenhoff saw how inadequacies in the public school system created barriers to learning for children. Today, as director of policy and research at Education Trust-Midwest, Lenhoff works to impact education policy, helping to shape policies to improve instruction in the classroom and, in turn, produce better outcomes for Michigan students.  
186 Articles | Page: | Show All
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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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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.


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