Supporting Our Leaders (SOL) Youth Program

Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Community Partnerships / Collective Impact,
Parental/Family Engagement


From 2008 to 2010, Supporting Our Leaders (SOL) evolved and is the only Latino youth program in Kent County designed to promote the educational success of the entire family through innovative and culturally responsive engagement activities. The community surrounding the Hispanic Center is severely underserved, 76% are Latino and 63% have less than a high school diploma. SOL serves more than 200 at-risk Latino youth, ages 14-21, to become academically prepared for college and beyond. SOL provides after-school tutoring, leadership development, college preparation activities, college visits, fieldtrips, service projects, parent engagement activities, and summer programming. SOL also added more structured programming like gang intervention services, summer learning academies, workforce development, paid work experiences, mentorship, and intensive case management. Last year SOL served over 490 youth in eight different programs. SOL is a program of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan founded in 1978. The Center has always offered youth services like leadership development and academic preparation.

Program Description

SOL aims to lessen the Latino achievement gap, increase college readiness, increase high school graduation rates, and increase college enrollment and retention with the ultimate goal of developing a talented and diverse workforce of educated and bilingual individuals that will positively affect their community.


  • SOL has served more than 800 students since 2008 and 85% of students served are Latino.
  • SOL students are more likely to graduate from high school compared to students at all Grand Rapids Public Schools (89% vs. 64%).
  • Of SOL students enrolled in college, 79% returned the next year.
  • Of students served, 93% complete the program.
  • In 2013, there was a 250% increase in scholarships earned.
  • In 2014, students earned over $60,000 in scholarships.