need & solution

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The Need

When Donny first moved to the Southeast side of Grand Rapids, an ex-gang member in his neighborhood told him:

“In the Southeast side, you usually find three things on major street corners: A drug house, a liquor store or a church. The problem is, the drug house and the liquor store are open at all hours of the night, but the church is only open a few hours a week.”   

Community Kids wants to change that. We believe the church is not just the walls around us, but people ready to serve when they see a need. We want to be people who are available for our neighbors during their darkest hours, at any time day or night.  

We focus on kids because they’re a huge demographic with equally huge potential.

Statistics to consider:

  • 1/3 of the world’s population is under the age of 15

  • Single-parent homes have increased 139% in the last 50 years

  • Only 3% of church resources go to help children-focused ministries

  • The breakdown of the family has far-reaching impact (violence, transience, poverty, addictions, and literacy) and puts serious hurdles in the path of children, adolescents, teens -- and adults and communities.

Two years ago we did a map study of the kids in our neighborhood. Here’s what we found:

  • There are 1500 children and youth between the ages of 10 - 19 within a half-mile radius of our neighborhood.

  • There are 17 local churches within that same half-mile radius.

  • Roughly 1200 of those kids are not connected to a local church, meaning these churches are reaching only around 300 out of the 1500 children and youth.

In one study we find inspirational, kids growing up in poverty identified three main factors which helped them become Christ-like leaders in their communities:  

  • A “life-changing” event, often a conference, camp or retreat, is what first caused them to change their path.

  • Long-term mentoring relationships caused them to stay on this new path.

  • An often- “undeserved” opportunity to lead transformed them into leaders who help others get on the right path.  

Our Solutions

We seek to love our neighbors in the Southeast side, no matter how unconventional that looks, and to walk alongside kids as they navigate the diverse circumstances life brings them. We do this one block at a time, one kid at a time.

Kids’ lives are complex. That’s why we offer a wide range of opportunities that enable them to connect with caring, adult mentors: