Mindy Nuhring Chairs the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Workforce Development Committee

Mindy Nuhring is the Executive Director of River Grand Assisted Living and she Chairs the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Workforce Development Committee

As youth in the community (somewhat!) eagerly anticipate the start of a new school year, the SPARK council and I are eager to start the next chapter of work that supports youth in all facets of their lives across the Itasca area.

Turning this page has been a long time coming, and builds on the work of so many in the region. From a story begun at a series of community convenings in 2010 that cast a wide net to capture the hopes and dreams about the kind of community the Itasca area aspires to be for its youth, several dozen community leaders crafted the Pathway to Student Success based on those dreams. The 2013 Youth Voice survey powerfully captured our young people’s take on what is on their minds and in their hearts. These voices propelled community action in dozens of large and small ways then, and continues to do so today.

In short, we – the community folks who make up the SPARK council now – believe SPARK is responding to the hopes and dreams you, and our youth, have for our community.

SPARK’s mission — to discover and amplify the strength within our communities, achieving together more than we thought was possible – also means we need your voice now more than ever. Our new name was selected to make us easier to remember (Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success was a real mouthful!). Our new website makes it easy for you to learn about and join us in this rich, exciting and ever-changing work.

Later this year our first paid staff comes on board with one primary mission: to connect YOU – your hopes, dreams, talents, skills — to the action you want to take in support of the Pathway.

So keep an eye on this space. Our activities will ramp up this fall. We hope to see you soon at a community meeting or engaging with us on social media.

I, and the entire SPARK council, hope SPARK becomes a place for Itasca folks to connect our passions to community action in support of kids. We believe that when we all come together, we can achieve more than we thought was possible.

Mindy Nurhing
Executive Director, River Grand
SPARK council member