Grand Rapids Community Foundation Board of Trustees has awarded a $195,000 grant to Gerontology Network. The grant will support Traveling Grannies and Grandpas, an intergenerational mentoring program at Harrison Park School.
“The intergenerational programs are so vital because they allow students to be mentored by older adults and to be influenced positively,” said Jennifer Feuerstein, director of marketing, communications and development at Gerontology Network.
Gerontology Network has had success with previous mentoring programs. Based on past results, a minimum of 85% of participants are expected to show improvement in MEAP scores. Improvements in behavior are also anticipated.
“Gerontology Network has an extensive track record operating these programs and demonstrating significant academic achievement,” said Community Foundation program director Kate Schmid.
The educational and personal support students receive from their mentors complements the Challenge Scholars program also underway at Harrison Park. Challenge Scholars is a Community Foundation initiative that gives educational support and college scholarships to students from the school. Both the Traveling Grannies and Grandpas and Challenge Scholars programs focus on creating a college going culture within Harrison Park.
Around 170 students are expected to be in enrolled in the mentoring program, which will last three years. Students at Harrison Park will be selected for Traveling Grannies and Grandpas based on teacher recommendations and academic needs. Mentoring will be available to Harrison Park students of all grade levels.
The mentoring program will benefit the physical and mental health of mentors, all of whom are adults over 50 years of age. A stipend will also supplement their incomes.
“When older adults volunteer with students they live longer, healthier lives, have a more positive outlook on life and are less isolated and lonely,” said Feuerstein. “These opportunities are a win-win.”
Financial support for the grant to Gerontology Network will come from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Lucy Barnett Fund for the Elderly.