The Eastside Youth Strong (formerly Kalamazoo Center for Youth and Community) was envisioned in 2003 by a group of community leaders who are committed to changing the negative outcomes for youth in the Eastside and Eastwood Neighborhood. In 2011, with startup funding from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and subsequent program funding support from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Eastside Youth Strong began implementing quality youth development approaches aimed at increased classroom achievement for Eastside and Eastwood youth. Since then, several partnerships have been developed to support changing the outcomes for youth in the served neighborhoods. We now serve over 300 youth through the following partnerships:
- Kalamazoo Public Schools
- Northeastern Elementary
- SLD Reads
- WMU Occupational Therapy Dept
- Speak It Forward
- Prevention Works
- Eastside Neighborhood Association
- Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo
- Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
- Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
- WMU Medical School
Read the Eastside Youth Strong’s Eastside Youth Strong Organizational Commitment to Racial Equity.
Our mission is to support youth and families in their personal growth, educational attainment, health and wellness, civic engagement and social change. Eastside Youth Strong is applying best practice methodologies to support neighborhood assets and address neighborhood needs and to provide capacity building, collaboration, and evaluation to align services. Ultimately, Eastside Youth Strong seeks to help transform the Eastside and Eastwood Neighborhoods into a community where youth can reach their fullest potential by being economically self-sufficient, having healthy family and social relationships, graduating from high school on time, and contributing to their community.
Quality Programming in place at Eastside Youth Strong
Eastside Youth Strong uses the Youth Program Quality Assessment as the quality measurement tool to provide quality youth development. Today, Eastside Youth Strong has met or exceeded national standards for providing quality in youth programming.
Social Emotional tool for youth success
Eastside Youth Strong uses the Devereaux Student Strength Assessment DESSA to support youth in building strong social emotional skills for life. The DESSA is used by staff and partners engaged with youth and helps staff understand where they can work with a youth to address skill building.
Parents who are participating in the ISS program have shared that this effort has changed their child’s attitude toward reading and has also increased their confidence in reading.
Parents who are working with the Student Engagement and Intervention Coordinator in Check and Connect have stated, no one has cared about their child more and they don’t know what they would do without the help of the program.
Youth who participate in CHAMPS have said they have learned to be leaders and feel they have a sense of belonging.
Youth who participate in Speak with Fire have said they feel listened to and have learned to trust as a part of the experience.
Youth who participate in ASAP have said they feel they know the importance education and how it relates to their goals and dreams.