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GR Initiative for Leaders expands partnership with local high schools, colleges

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To support student academic success and community leadership, the “Be the Change” project aims to promote post-secondary education and civic engagement among Grand Rapids high school students

/Courtesy of GRIL

Strengthening leaders to transform communities

GRIL U Teen Leadership Program is a training program for teens led by adult GR Initiative for Leaders and DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative graduates. Adult graduates invest in up to four teens to encourage growth toward becoming Christ like, Cross-cultural, Servant leaders for impact in their homes, schools, neighborhoods, churches, and cities. Teens must be a minimum of 16 years old and must be able to commit to 2-5 hours per week for this intense experience.

Ambassador Club Program is a training program for teens at Ottawa Hills and Union High Schools led by local adult youth workers and graduates of GRIL/DVULI. The 30 teens at each school gather for training each week to grow as leaders for impact in their school and their community.

/Courtesy of GRIL

GR Initiative for Leaders (GRIL) announced their program expansion and continued partnership with local public schools and area ministries to provide leadership development opportunities for high school students. This year begins a three year project, Be the Change, in which the organization will partner with local colleges and universities to provide a support system for teen program alumni to obtain a post-secondary degree or certification, continue to receive leadership development and commit to civic engagement in their communities upon graduating. 

The project is funded in part by a $350,000 multi-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Be the Change aims to reduce racial inequities in our community and in education by equipping and empowering teens in Grand Rapids to make a lifelong commitment to community leadership. Included in the goals of the project are the expansion of the Ambassador Club and GRIL U programs, establishing a Teen Advisory Council, partnering with colleges and universities to support program alumni, and consulting other cities on teen leadership development.

“Studies have shown that African American and Hispanic students fall disproportionately behind Caucasian students in high school graduation and college retention rates. This unfortunate disparity negatively impacts the lives and futures of teens, their commitment to civic engagement, and our community as a whole. By partnering with local colleges and universities, we will provide a support system for teen program alumni to succeed and achieve their goals,” said GRIL Executive Director, Denise Fase.

For more information on the Be the Change project and GR Initiative for Leaders, call (616)301-6697 or visit

About GR Initiative for Leaders

GR Initiative for Leaders (GRIL) is a nonprofit, Christian organization created by alumni of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (DVULI). GRIL invests in emerging teen and adult leaders by providing leadership development programs. Each program helps leaders expand or develop the core values of balance, accountability, empowerment, interdependence, leverage, and diversity.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United states and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally are in Mexico and Haiti.  For more information, visit

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