Since Eastside Youth Strong (EYS) began in 2011, focused on Kalamazoo’s Eastside neighborhoods, the percentage of 5th grade students graduating at grade level at Northeastern Elementary has increased tremendously from 2.9% to 20% in math. Reading scores tripled 8.1% to 24%.

The mission of the Eastside Youth Strong is to support Kalamazoo Eastside youth and families in their personal growth, educational attainment, health and wellness, civic engagement, and social change. EYS’s service area is focused geographically and strategically on a partnership with Northeastern Elementary School, where scores are improving, but still very low: 87% of Northeastern students are eligible for the National School Lunch Program. All of the students are eligible for The Kalamazoo Promise.

EYS created the Boys & Girls Club at Northeastern Elementary School in partnership with B&G Club, and established the CHAMPS afterschool program, Student Services program for students with high needs, Check & Connect program targeting students identified at risk for dropping out of school, and Eastside Arts & Science Experience Learning (EASEL) summer program. All programs seek to improve individual student behaviors, socio-emotional skills, school attendance, and ultimately academic performance. EYS targets academic performance improvements at a four year "catch-up" increment to eventually reach grade level.

EYS was visited in 2017 by Colleagues International Kalamazoo, hosting U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, which identified EYS as one of five outstanding programs in the United States implementing innovative strategies and tactics to use in youth programs. EYS has program collaboration efforts with 16 neighborhood and community organizations.

Note To Our Donor Advisors:
You’ve already shown your love for this community by creating an Advised Fund at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Through Partners in Philanthropy, we offer you an opportunity to demonstrate that love again by supporting one or more of the projects highlighted with a grant suggestion from the fund you established. The programs shared in this publication are among the recent funding requests we’ve received from local nonprofit organizations.

To support this program, download the grant suggestion form here and select Eastside Youth Strong or make a grant suggestion using Kalamazoo Connect at