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Ensuring strong starts and promising futures, in school and the community. 

In December, we heard great updates from each GRSEPN Partner on what they accomplished in our first year of the Promise Neighborhood Grant. Now, we look forward to progress on the "Promise" pipeline of initiatives for engaging and supporting the children, youth, and families of Grand Rapids' southeast neighborhood. Here are a few highlights of the work in progress:

  • We look forward to visiting our neighborhood partner LINC UP as they host the next Partner Leadership meeting, giving all members a first-hand glimpse into their programs and facilities.
  • Our Design and Implementation (D+I) Teams have identified strengths, growth opportunities, and a vision for what we can achieve with each of the GRSEPN pipeline initiatives. Now, they are in the process of getting feedback from GRSEPN Partners and the teams of school renewal facilitators and specialists who will be supporting the Pipeline initiatives in schools.
  • Facilitators and school renewal specialists are working with principals and teachers weekly in the 14 Promise Neighborhood (PN) schools. They are helping build a current picture of strengths and growth opportunities each school can use to increase student success in the GRSEPN areas of focus. These include early childhood development, kindergarten readiness, math and literacy proficiency, student social/emotional development, career and college readiness, and successful transitions through school and to post-secondary education or careers. They also include initiatives to increase health, safety, and overall well-being for children and youth.
  • In February, Grand Valley State University Johnson Center evaluation team will be wrapping up the community surveys to further inform GRSEPN Pipeline initiatives. The GVSU and WMU teams are also working with all partners to complete a comprehensive data plan around the ten Federal progress indicators and measures.
  • The GRSEPN Partners are building a communications hub through which all the Partner organizations will build upon their collaboration and coordination of programs and services to children, youth, and families.
  • We are also in the process of building a dedicated website for the GRSEPN Project and hope to have it go live by late spring. This will give our partners, students, families, and others a “one-stop” place for news and useful information.

Our story continues to grow and develop and we thank our partners and contributors for their tremendous efforts. 

In celebration of a great community and great community partners,

–Patricia Reeves, Jianping Shen, Bridget Cheney, and Candace Cowling  GRSEPN Co-Directors
Project Updates

Design + Implementation Teams Continue to SOAR

By Tricia Mathes & Sherrie Ross, D & I Team Leaders
Design + Implementation (D+I) Team Directors continued to engage with each team in November and December, holding meetings on November 29, and December 7 and 8 at Alger Middle School. 

We want to take a moment to thank each one of the members for their continued engagement and collaboration. In the past four months, we have used the SOAR process to determine strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results for each Design and Implementation (D+I) Team, which is quite an accomplishment. In January, the D+I team leaders met with Partner leaders, School Renewal Facilitators, and School Renewal Specialists to go over all of the work the teams have created to this point to get additional and varied input into the project thus far. D+I teams did not meet in January, however, will reconvene in February (see dates below). The focus of February’s D+I meetings will be to determine research-based strategies and practices that will be implemented to accomplish the desired results discussed for each team during December’s meetings. We are excited to continue collaboration with such incredibly passionate teams! 

Upcoming meetings

See each D+I team section below for the next meeting dates. All meetings will be held at Alger Middle School, 921 Alger St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Park directly to the west of the school’s main entrance.
Academic Success

Next Meeting: Tuesday, February 7th 



Growth and proficiency of students in Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA).


Check out this amazing resource called Power Parent produced by GRPS Parent University. This month's edition informs and educates parents about reading, the fundamental building block of learning at all levels. You can also listen and watch as familiar actors and comedians read beautifully illustrated books out loud. Click the image above to see an example.

Parent University also features a section of valuable resources in areas that support academic success, such as attendance, health, and so many others topics.  
Family & Community Engagement/Support

Next Meeting: Wednesday, February 15th



Growth in school- and community-based engagement and support for learning.



GRPS Family and Community Engagement (FACE) has proudly partnered with LINC UP. Their mission is to advance a racial equity agenda in Grand Rapids by expanding affordable housing and increasing community power. Ultimately their work is to change policies that limit advancement opportunities in under-resourced communities and neighborhoods. LINC UP joined FACE on Saturday, December 10, 2022, at the Winter Warmth Give-A-Way. Visit the LINC UP website to learn more about their upcoming events and how they support Grand Rapids Southeast Neighborhood families and schools.
Early Childhood Development

Next Meeting: Thursday, February 9th



Children at ages 0-4 years experience improvements across multiple domains so that they are ready for Kindergarten.


Family Futures’ Trauma and Resilience Workgroup has been working diligently to create training modules in support of our efforts to educate community organizations on trauma-informed approaches and building resilience for children and families. We have created eight modules ranging from an introduction to trauma and resilience:

  • Trauma and Resilience Brief Overview
  • Understanding Trauma and Practicing Resilience
  • Mind-Mindedness

to more in-depth training sessions, including:

  • Resilience, Trauma, and Biology: A Deep Dive
  • Preventing Childhood Trauma: Evidence-Based Strategies
  • Engaging Families and Communities in Fostering Resilience
  • Understanding Vicarious Trauma and Building Professional Resilience
  • Koru Mindfulness

The team has reached out to more than twenty organizations that have indicated an interest in receiving training. Upcoming events include training for Great Start to Quality’s Early Childhood Professional Development Day in January and the Understanding Trauma and Practicing Resilience Training for the KSSN team at Grand Rapids Public Schools. We look forward to scheduling additional training sessions throughout the year!

Learning Readiness

Next Meeting: Wednesday, February 15th



Growth or improvement in addressing students' social and emotional learning, attendance, trauma response, and successful school transitions. 


Canning Classes

Baxter Community Center kicked off canning classes in October with maple apple jam. Participants went on to make dilly beans, corn relish, coleslaw, cranberry juice, cranberry sauce, and cranberry relish through November and December. This was an excellent way to educate families on how to preserve fresh produce so it keeps longer in their pantry.  
College & Career Readiness

Next Meeting: Thursday, February 9th



College and workplace readiness, enrollments and completion of post-secondary programs, and successful school transitions.


Grand Rapids Promise Zone offers free higher education 
Have you heard about the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship, not to be confused with our Promise Neighborhood Project? Established in 2018, the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship covers the cost of GRCC tuition, fees, and textbooks at Grand Rapids Community College for all eligible students in the Grand Rapids Public Schools service area, including those in the southeast neighborhoods. Whether a student plans to transfer to a four-year university or join the workforce, GRCC’s degree and job training certificate programs offer something for every student, every interest, and every future. Visit the Promise Zone website or attend an event to learn more. 

Got questions? 

Interested in learning more about the GRSEPN Project? Click on these "Talking Points" for helpful information. 
Talking Points

Partner Leadership Meeting

February 3, 2023
10:30 am - 12:30 pm

1167 Madison Ave Se, (Gallery Space), Grand Rapids, MI. 49507

Partner Leadership Team activities

The Partner Leadership Team consists of representatives from the many different organizations listed at the bottom of this email who serve the Grand Rapids Southeast neighborhood. 

Partner Reports

Partners continually chart and monitor their progress toward GRSEPN goals. Click the button below to view their December presentations. 
Partner Reports
We invite you to reach out with questions about the GRSEPN project or to offer feedback or ideas for our teams. We are greater together!   



Lisa Ryan 



Alicia Billini


Lindsay Baker


Tricia Mathes
Sherrie Ross
Other Key Personnel


Did you know we have a growing GRSEPN web page where you can find key facts and information about the GRSEPN project? At the page, you can find lists of key outcomes, project partners, and more! Check back often since we're working to make the webpage an information hub! 
Visit our page!
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