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Infancy to Innovation

Infancy to Innovation is a framework within The Power of We crossing community sectors to boost developmental results for children and young adults, especially those of color from low-income neighborhoods. Using an atypical approach to solving child (birth to 25 years) development problems, Infancy to Innovation operates with the belief that having a healthy, successful life begins in the womb.

Verona Early Grade Reading Achievement Program

The Verona Early Grade Reading Achievement Program is striving for 80 percent of its K-2 students at Verona Elementary School in Battle Creek to read at or above grade level. Coaching for teachers, leveled book sets in the classroom, a summer reading component, and trained community volunteers that come in weekly to tutor are all part of the mix to help children excel in reading. 

Music Makers

Music Makers is a program for at-risk youth to learn guitar, piano or chorus in weekly group classes. The material covered is largely based on input and feedback from the students in order to recognize various cultural backgrounds and to develop a sense of trust and investment. 


Water Street Glassworks is casting a blazing fire under Benton Harbor youth. Nearly three dozen teens attend FIRED UP! afterschool glass class where they design holiday ornaments, glasswork items, and other “beyond-their-years” works. The program’s curriculum was conceived to boost youthful spirits and reinforce confidence.


Ann Arbor’s REACH (Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Community, and Hope) program engages low-income, K-5 students in tutoring and activities to develop social skills and educational excellence. With the help of nearly 200 volunteers, the afterschool program is designed to be both rewarding and fun to keep kids and families coming back. 

Youth Initiative Project

Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiatives Project engages at-risk youth in creating their own campaigns around causes they believe in. This reinforces leadership skills and teaches young people to advocate for themselves around the policies that affect their lives. In the process, they give kids in some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Detroit a sense of ownership over their futures.

Lift Up Through Literacy

Lift Up Through Literacy is a rapidly growing Kalamazoo Public Schools program that teaches hands-on literacy skills to parents and children that they can use at home on an everyday basis. The eight-week sessions are divided into classes for birth through two years, two through pre-school, and kindergarten through eighth grade. The program targets at-risk families, but any interested parent is welcome.

Sojourner Truth Girls Academy

Sojourner Truth Girls Academy, sponsored by the Urban League of Battle Creek, offers girls experiences in math and science and exposure to female role models in the fields of engineering and computer technology. The program sparks interest in science and math topics through enriching activities like creating balloon rocket launchers, making flavored lip gloss, and designing and building simple airplanes. 

Reading Works

Statistics show that functional illiteracy among southeast Michigan adults is significant, from 13 to 15 percent in Oakland and Macomb counties to 36 percent in Wayne County. Reading Works partners with other nonprofits to help adults reach a minimum ninth-grade level of literacy, thus allowing them to improve their economic status, participate equally in community growth, and improve literacy skills for children within the home.  

Youth Voice

YOUTH VOICE, a project of the Harriet Tubman Center, is a network for young people to make community change. The current YOUTH VOICE statewide campaign is to reduce out-of-school suspensions by advocating for the zero tolerance policy to be modified and for more school resources so students have additional support as an alternative to suspensions. It’s all about youth creating change, so the 16-year old president of YOUTH VOICE has joined our dialogue. 

Kids Helping Kids

Kids Helping Kids gives young people the opportunity to help others by packing food at Gleaners Community Food Bank that will be distributed to other children and youth in southeast Michigan. It introduces the idea of community service in a fun, rewarding way and has both hunger education and nutrition education components too. 

Food Warriors

An important aspect of Food Warriors, a program of Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, is to de-stigmatize the relationship between African Americans and agriculture, which is often viewed through a lens of oppression. As the program teaches young people about healthy food and gardening, it’s also helping to reframe agriculture as a tool of self-determination. 

Afterschool Art & Design Classes

CultureWorks’ way-cool afterschool art and design classes are targeted toward underserved middle and high school youth from the Holland and Ottawa school districts. The 12-week courses offer students the chance to sculpt, create ceramics, design amusement parks, or work with digital photography, and kids get a lift to and from the program. 

Education Trust - Midwest

Small but mighty, Education Trust - Midwest, headquartered in Royal Oak, is pushing to close the achievement gap and raise learning levels for all Michigan students. With a focus on what’s best for students, the organization is making headway in reforming teacher policies that will boost educator effectiveness.

School Report Card

Excellent Schools Detroit’s School Report Card provides parents of Detroit children with an easy-to-understand annual evaluation that looks at hard numbers such as test scores, as well as softer targets such as how nurturing, creative, and safe a school is for students. 
152 Articles | Page: | Show All
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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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