KPS Rich in Partners
Community Adds to the Lives of Our Children
In 1981, my sophomore year in college, I decided to become a big brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program in New Haven, Connecticut. I applied, went through the reference check process, and was introduced to my little brother several weeks later.
Erick and I became fast friends. I was accepted as part of his family and network of friends. He spent time on campus with me and my friends. He loved sports, and we were in a lot of pickup games together. His mother and I attended his baseball games and his spelling bees (He won a school championship!), and we even went to Madison Square Garden one day to see the Knicks play the 76ers.
By the time that I had graduated almost three years later, he was about to enter high school and was taller than I was. The little brother had become the big brother. Years later, my wife and I invited him to our wedding. Just a half decade ago, we had brunch in New York City. A couple of years ago, we went to lunch in Connecticut, where I heard not only about his kids but his grandkids.
I’ve appreciated Big Brothers Big Sisters for almost four decades, since that great experience with Erick and the organization in New Haven. We’re fortunate in Kalamazoo to have a strong Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. It does a terrific job with one-on-one mentoring.
We’re lucky to have not just Big Brothers Big Sisters as a partner when it comes to one-on-one mentoring. Churches affiliated with Kids Hope have provided one-on-one mentors for district children for a number of years. Communities in Schools (CIS) of Kalamazoo has also provided one-on-one mentors for our students.
In 2015, we began multi-student mentoring in the district, and expanded the program in 2016 to community mentors each typically mentoring four or five students. Last year, 413 staff and community mentors mentored 1,168 students in 9,572 weekly mentoring sessions. Great support for our kids! Thanks to those staff and community members who have joined me in this important way.
KPS is blessed beyond its mentors. We’re also fortunate when it comes to tutors as well. CIS-Kalamazoo coordinates volunteer tutors, and both Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College, among others, provide tutors for our children.
Our kids have benefitted from our food partnerships as well. In addition to having expanded our school breakfast, school lunch, and school dinner programs, we have an outstanding partnership with Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes, which has implemented food pantries in 11 of our schools in the last several years.
Several organizations provide after-school support or programs for our children, including, but not limited to, CIS-Kalamazoo, the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club, the Douglass Community Association, and Eastside Youth Strong.
KPS health/mental health partners include the Family Health Center, Family and Children’s Services, Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Bronson and Borgess hospitals, and CIS-Kalamazoo.
No list of Kalamazoo partners would be complete without The Kalamazoo Promise, which provides free college tuition to the vast majority of KPS high school graduates, the gift of generous, anonymous donors.
Any way one counts partners, KPS has more than 250, and the list continues to grow. Some organizations such as CIS provide many services. Others have a niche. All serve children in a mix of ways. For them all, we are enormously fortunate.
Below please find a list of 82 KPS partners. Over the next few months, we will share with you additional KPS partners and partner impacts. In the meantime, if you want to ensure that your partner organization is noted, please send your name and organization, along with how it partners with KPS, to Linda Mah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advia Credit Union
Advocacy Services for Kids (ASK)
Agape Christian Church
Allen Chapel AME Church
Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
The ARC Services for Youth
The ARK for Youth
Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo
Ascension - Borgess Hospital
Bible Baptist Church
Big Brothers / Big Sisters
Bigs with Badges
Bigs in Business
Black Arts & Cultural Center
Black Education Ensemble Theatre
Blessings in a Backpack
Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp
Boys and Girls Club
Breakfast of Champions
Brown Sugar Book Club
Child Evangelism Fellowship - Good News Club
Central Lodge #10 Prince Hall Association of Freemasons
Chapel Hill United Methodist Church
Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo
Community Advocates for Parents and Students (CAPS)
Community & Parent Volunteers
Community-Based Vocational Education
Community Presbyterian Church
Consumers Credit Union
Crescendo Academy of Music
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
Douglass Community Association
Eastside Youth Strong
Order of the Eastern Star - Zorah Chapter #3
Education for Employment (EFE)
Education for the Arts (EFA)
El Concilio - (Hispanic American Council)
Elizabeth Upjohn Healing Center
Fair Food Matters
Family & Children’s Services
Family Health Center
First Congregational United Church of Christ
First Day Shoe Fund
First Presbyterian Church
First United Baptist Church
First United Methodist Church
Flowserve Food Research Corporation
Fresh Fire AME Church
Galilee Baptist Church
Girls on the Run
Grace Harbor Church