Change Making

All Believe 2 Become strategies are carried out by invested partners who believe strong partnerships, yielding measurable results, are key to creating systemic change.

Partnering for Success

The wisdom of the community has shown that the most effective partners in the academic achievement of a child are parents. Parents hold the keys to cultivating the primary environment that provides their child with affirmation of unlimited potential, high expectations, and real opportunities to succeed in school, work, and life. The work of Believe 2 Become cultivates strategic parent partnerships within the entire educational ecosystem (schools, government, business, and community) whereby low-opportunity and under-resourced parents are empowered to take the lead when it comes to their child’s education. To that end, Believe 2 Become has adopted a Parent Partnership Model that spans across all programs to maximize success of the child.

Innovating Practice

Despite shared values, Grand Rapids is home to a massive opportunity gap, with economic and educational systems that ensure an abundance of opportunity for some children while bypassing others entirely.

With a shared desire to see all of Grand Rapids’ citizens flourish, a network of individuals and organizations joined forces with parents to help change this reality. Guided by rigorous research and a community-centered design process, what has emerged after seven years of work is an innovative set of practices that has begun to create lasting transformational change.

Three strategies have emerged from the Believe 2 Become research that produce higher academic outcomes include expanding access, the ability to take action on the right information, and real opportunities that cultivate the skills necessary to not just do well in school, but to forge a future with confidence, experience, and direction.

Catalytic Philanthropy

“Private donors, foundations, and corporations have the clout, connections, and capacity to make things happen in a way that most nonprofits do not. By becoming directly involved and taking personal responsibility for their results, these donors can leverage their personal and professional relationships, initiate public-private partnerships, import projects that have proved successful elsewhere, create new business models, influence government, draw public attention to an issue, coordinate the activities of different nonprofits, and attract fellow funders from around the globe. All of these powerful means for social change are left behind when donors confine themselves to simply writing checks.

“…Philanthropists cannot catalyze change by acting alone or imposing a solution, convinced that they have the answer before they begin. It takes countless hours of measurement and analysis to make sure that what we’re doing is really helping. And the verdict is in: It is.”

Kramer, Mark. “Catalytic Philanthropy.” Stanford Social Innovation Review. 2009.

How We Do This

How we cultivate expanded access: Parent University, Parent Engagement, Opportunity Line
How we cultivate actionable information: Baby Scholars, Challenge 5, Project LIFT
How we cultivate skill-building opportunities: Summer Learning Academies, Imagine U, Imagine More

Baby Scholars

Preparing young children for success

Summer Learning Academies

Preventing summer learning loss

Parent University

Helping parents help children

Challenge 5

Reducing chronic absenteeism

Project LIFT

Giving parents actionable information

Opportunity Line

Offering parents advocacy support

Parent Engagement

Creating avenues for action

Imagine U

Developing skills for successful futures

Imagine More

Building bridges to successful futures