Ypsi youth mentorship nonprofit expands staff, programs, collaborations with new office

A new location and a collaboration with the Bottles-N-Backpacks child development program will allow Ypsilanti nonprofit Mentor 2 Youth to expand the number of youth it can mentor each year.


Mentor 2 Youth recently moved into Chapelle Business Center (the former Chapelle Elementary School) at 111 S. Wallace Blvd. in Ypsi, where it will share multiple classrooms with Bottles-N-Backpacks.


"Bottles-N-Backpacks takes care of children (from) birth to 6 years old, and Mentor 2 Youth takes over from 6 to 18," says Mentor 2 Youth founder Emmanuel Jones.


For the last eight years, Mentor 2 Youth's office space has been located in a tiny suite at 317 Ecorse Rd. in Ypsi Township. Moving to a much larger office at Chapelle in fall 2018 has already allowed the nonprofit mentorship program to expand from having one or two interns to five or six, Jones says.


Mentor 2 Youth already runs programming out of Parkridge Community Center and Erickson Elementary School. Adding the Chapelle location establishes a presence on the west side of Ypsi, Jones says. Programming at the Chapelle location started Feb. 1.


In the coming year, Mentor 2 Youth will also expand its partnership with other nonprofit programs. Those will include collaborations with the "Our Own Thing" music program started by a former University of Michigan professor, as well as GRIT Ann Arbor, adding a physical fitness component to Mentor 2 Youth's programming for the first time in the organization's history.


Jones says he additionally plans to collaborate with Willow Run Acres, also located inside the Chapelle Business Center, on gardening lessons for youth. Staff at Willow Run Acres have established a small outdoor plot at the business center for warmer months and they maintain an indoor garden year-round.


Jones would also like to coordinate more field trips for Mentor 2 Youth participants, "to allow kids access to fun experiences and opportunities and engage parents," Jones says.


While Mentor 2 Youth does provide career and college programming to high school students, its core is still the Future Leaders program, serving youth in first through sixth grades with academic tutoring and development of life skills.


"We can take a kid (who is) behind several levels, who is dealing with anxiety or anger or discipline issues, who is lacking in self-esteem, and move them toward maturity," Jones says.


The community has a few opportunities to learn more and support Mentor 2 Youth in the coming weeks. Jones plans an open house at the Chapelle location in late February and says to watch the nonprofit's website for an official announcement of the date and time.


Additionally, Beal Properties has made a commitment to help Mentor 2 Youth raise $35,000 this year, in part through an April 20 bowling fundraiser. More information and registration for the bowling fundraiser can be found here.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the 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.


Photo by Sarah Rigg.