Youth mentoring nonprofit hosts 'Taste of Ypsi' fall fundraising gala Oct. 20

Mentor 2 Youth, an Ypsilanti-based mentoring nonprofit with a mission to educate and empower local youth, will host its fall gala from 7-10 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse with a theme of "Taste of Ypsi."

This is Mentor 2 Youth's sixth fall gala, the organization's biggest fundraiser of the year, and the second with a tasting theme.

Last year, any restaurant could participate, but this year, founder Emmanuel Jones intentionally made sure the lineup is "very Ypsi-centric." Washtenaw County is home to a few tasting events and pub and food crawls, but not many that are based in Ypsilanti, he says.

"One goal is to really expose a different audience to all the wonderful things Ypsilanti has, from restaurants and retail shops to other types of vendors, building an economy for local businesses," Jones says. "Being a frequent customer of a lot of downtown Ypsilanti businesses, the audience is not that diverse. We wanted to improve that diversity and, in turn, help support the businesses by (bringing in) a new audience."

The other goal is to bring more awareness to Mentor 2 Youth. The organization helps disadvantaged youth excel in school through focused mentoring to improve motivation and accountability. It also provides students with school supplies and leadership opportunities.  

"We're pushing closer to our goal of being able to serve 125 youth this school year," Jones says.

Ypsilanti restaurants and food businesses such as JJ's BBQ, Go! Ice Cream, Sidetrack, Maiz Mexican Cantina, Ahmo's, and Brookie's Cafe will provide food samples, and retail shops like Love at First Try are donating silent auction items.

The event will include wine and beer, networking with community leaders who work with youth, and live music. The cost is $25 per person or $45 per couple. Tickets are available at www.mentor2youth.com.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the interim project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.