Nonprofit wins $382K grant


Senior Neighbors promotes the health and well-being of Kent County's older adults with five senior centers offering a variety of services. Photo via

A local nonprofit has won a grant from a foundation to support a program that pairs seniors with students in need of extra support.

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is providing a $382,500 to the Senior Neighbors’ Foster Grandparents: Traveling Grannies and Grandpas program, which trains and matches people over the age of 55 with students.

The adults provide one-on-one tutoring in reading and math and mentorship. They work closely with teachers to meet the changing needs of the students. For the students, the program aims to improve academic success and reduce negative behaviors.

The schools where students are getting the extra support are Harrison Park, Sibley and Stocking schools, all of which are part of the Challenge Scholars program — a partnership between Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Challenge Scholars aims to increase the number of first-generation college-goers who complete a college degree or qualified trade program.

The grant allows up to eight volunteers at Harrison Park School, expanding their current Traveling Grannies and Grandpas program. Sibley and Stocking elementary schools will receive up to three volunteers each. 

Older adults also benefit from the program.

Studies show that people who participate in inter-generational activities like Traveling Grannies and Grandpas have reported increased cognitive function, physical activity, social engagement and well-being.

The program also serves as a way for low-income older adults to supplement their income — low-income volunteers receive a modest hourly stipend.

Grand Rapids Public Schools also received a $500,000 grant from the foundation for academic and support services to continue to help Challenge Scholars students stay on track for college success.

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