Introduction to Educate to Elevate March 5

OKT introduces new dates, new chefs & new RDN!

This month, OKT’s executive director, Lisa OLiver-King, will talk about the porgam and introduce this year’s new E2E team: Chefs Ederique Goudia and Jermond Booze AND Winona Bynum, our new registered dietitian.

MLK Jr. Day 2022: Democracy Now posts “MLK Day Special: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in His Own Words”

Please enjoy this video and excerpts from Dr. King’s April 4, 1967 and April 3, 1968 speeches reposted from Democracy Now.


Today is the federal holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was born January 15, 1929. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just 39 years old. While Dr. King is primarily remembered as a civil rights leader, he also championed the cause of the poor and organized the Poor People’s Campaign to address issues of economic justice. Dr. King was also a fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy and the Vietnam War. We play his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, which he delivered at New York City’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, as well as his last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” that he gave on April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated.

COVID-19 Vaccines Available to Children 5 to 11

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is currently taking appointments for the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for this age group. In addition, extended clinic hours at all locations will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 and Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 from 8 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. and from 12:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Appointments can be made for all three KCHD clinic locations during regular business hours by calling (616) 632-7200.

A parent or legal guardian is required to attend the vaccination appointment or send an attestation form with an adult who is at least 18 years old, stating they are legally allowed to sign on behalf of any minor child for the vaccine. This adult should be familiar with the medical history of the child.

“We are tremendously excited to be able to provide this next wave of vaccines to younger children,” says Mary Wisinski, KCHD Immunizations Supervisor. “We have seen an increase in the number of children being infected with COVID-19 since this summer. This vaccine not only protects them, but it will help slow the transmission of the disease in our community. Vaccinating just one child has the potential to save many lives.”

Like the adult version, this vaccine entails two shots of a vaccine, given at least three weeks apart. However, the dose is approximately a third of what adults received. Also, different packaging will be used to guard against mix-ups and smaller needles will likely be used.

Among its findings during clinical testing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that the Pfizer vaccine was 90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 to 11. The vaccine safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children aged 5 to 11 with no serious side effects detected in the ongoing study. Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in children ages 5 to 11.
El Departamento de Salud del Condado de Kent (Kent County Health Department) ofrecerá la vacuna contra el COVID-19 a niños de 5 a 11 años
El martes, los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC) de EE. UU. autorizaron el uso de emergencia para la vacuna contra el COVID-19 desarrollada por Pfizer y su socio BioNTech a partir del viernes para los niños de 5 a 11 años.

Como resultado de este desarrollo, el Departamento de Salud del Condado de Kent (KCHD) actualmente está programando citas para la vacuna contra el COVID-19 de Pfizer BioNTech para este grupo etario. Además, todos los centros tendrán un horario extendido el martes 9 de noviembre y el martes 16 de noviembre de 2021 de 8 a. m. a 11:45 a. m. y de 12:45 p. m. a 6:45 p. m. Las citas pueden programarse para los tres centros del KCHD llamando al (616) 632-7200 durante el horario de atención habitual.

Se requiere que el padre, la madre o el tutor legal asista a la cita de vacunación o que envíe una certificación con un adulto de al menos 18 años de edad que indique que este cuenta con la autorización legal para firmar en nombre del menor para la vacuna. Este adulto debe estar familiarizado con los antecedentes médicos del menor.

“Nos complace enormemente poder ofrecer esta próxima ola de vacunas a los niños más pequeños”, expresó Mary Wisinski, supervisora de vacunación del KCHD. “Detectamos un aumento en la cantidad de niños infectados con COVID-19 desde este verano. Esta vacuna los protege a ellos y también ayudará a disminuir la transmisión de la enfermedad en nuestra comunidad. Vacunar a un solo niño tiene el potencial de salvar muchas vidas”.

Al igual que la versión para adultos, esta vacuna requiere dos dosis, que se administran con una diferencia de al menos tres semanas una de otra. Sin embargo, la dosis es aproximadamente un tercio de la dosis para adultos. Además, se utilizará un empaquetado diferente para evitar confusiones, así como es probable que se usen agujas más pequeñas.

Grand Rapids students invited to write about and celebrate the life of Rosa Parks

Annual contest offers prizes up to $500 Rosa Parks Essay Contest image

As part of their mission to provide continuing education on the impact that Rosa Parks had on this nation, the Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission (CRC) and the Office of Equity and Engagement are once again hosting the Rosa Parks Essay Writing Contest. Students in grades 6-12 attending a school in Grand Rapids are encouraged to write an essay and reflect on this year’s prompt:

“Healing Without Hate.” There will never be a time in American history where the heroism of Rosa Parks will be forgotten. Although she did not plan to become a hero, her heroic actions helped this nation fight racism and hate while creating pathways to healing. How will you practice acts of healing to combat injustices and inequities to keep the legacy of Rosa Parks alive? 

Winning student authors will be awarded $500-first place, $300-second place and $200-third place prizes for each group (6-8 grade, 9-10 grade and 11-12 grade).

Essay submissions are due October 21 via or must be postmarked by that date. The winning essays will be announced at 3 p.m. December 2 at Grand Rapids City Hall, City Commission Chambers, 9th Floor, 300 Monroe NW, Grand Rapids. For more details visit

December 1 marks the 66th anniversary of the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2010, the City of Grand Rapids dedicated a sculpture to honor the life of this brave woman who changed American society in a monumental way. The bronze monument standing at the entrance of Rosa Parks Circle, 135 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, is a message to those who continue her work, uphold her philosophy, and demonstrate dignity with the pride and courage with perseverance.

Students say “Thank you” for OKT-sponsored tutoring program

Thanks to Kent County COVID-19 relief funds, several of Our Kitchen Table’s Program for Growth families at GRPS Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy were able to connect their children with Mosaic Masterminds tutors during the ’20-’21 school year. We were honored to partner with you last year, and together we were able to double our impact of confidence-boosting while providing academic, student support.  The scholars worked hard to learn and succeed during very challenging circumstances, and several of them and their families showed their appreciation for our Mosaic Masterminds tutors. You can hear from some of them in this Mosaic Masterminds video.

April Ruiz, Mastermind’s owner and lead tutor, told OKT, “We were honored to partner with you last year, and together we were able to double our impact of confidence-boosting while providing academic, student support.  The scholars we were fortunate to serve worked hard to learn and succeed during very challenging circumstances, and several of them and their families showed their appreciation for our Mosaic Masterminds tutors.” 

COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA)

CERA can provide rental and utility assistance for eligible renter households so that they retain their housing stability.

  • The tenant only needs to be in rental arrears, so no court notice is required for this funding.
  • Feel free to share the flyers with your clients. 
  • Updated information is available at . Households in need of assistance can also call 877.ERA.KENT.
  • The Website redirects you to if the above website does not work and the application  portal is up and running.
  • Paper applications can also be printed at MSHDA – COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) (  and dropped off at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan (1204 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI), The Salvation Army (located at Fuller and Fulton St.), or the  Kent County Community Action Agency (KCCA) at 82 Ionia St., Suite 390.
  • Tenants can also walk into any of the agencies listed above for assistance with applying for the rental assistance.
  • Clients and agency partners can also scan & email applications to
  • The anticipated processing time for CERA funding is 30 days.
  • There is no receipt provided when an application is submitted to the portal. If clients have questions regarding their application, they can call 877-ERA-KENT to confirm the status.
  • CERA funds can be used to cover rent and/or utilities (gas, electric, water).  If the client is not behind on utilities, the payment will be made to give them a credit on their account.

KCAD graduate students design/build raised beds for OKT

On April 19, a group of graduate architecture students at Kendall College of Art and Design designed and built five large and two small raised garden-beds at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy. After filling with organic composted soil, Our Kitchen Table Program for Growth participants planted the beds with organic vegetable starter plants on April 23 and 24.

Now the Program for Growth has even more space to grow nutritious food for students at school, their families and people in the neighborhood!

Special thanks to Stephanie Balke, owner, Balke Planning & Designs and Quentin Rauch, president, American Institute of Architecture Students.

Spoken word poem shares the deadly legacy of “400 Years” of sugar

Spoken word artist Té Speight, just released this brand-new video short.

Té’s powerful poem “400 Years” delivers a truth-to-power message from his personal experience and perspective.

Please take a minute to watch it. If you love it like I do, please pass it along to others! Here are those links for FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

The piece offers a fresh and unique take on the infamous history of sugar as a commodity, and speaks directly about the soda industry’s aggressive marketing tactics toward the Black community.

Youth Summer Jobs Opportunity

Ages 15 – 24. Application deadline Friday, April 30. Apply HERE.

Building on the success of employing more than 350 youth last summer, the City and area businesses – are poised to employ 650 Grand Rapids residents ages 15 to 24 beginning June 14.

GRow1000 will offer young people 120-hour work experiences over six weeks from June 14 through July 23. Youth participants will work 20 hours each week earning $10 an hour for those under 18 and $13 an hour for those 18 and older. To participate, individuals must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be between 15 and 24 years old as of June 14
  • Live in the city of Grand Rapids
  • Be eligible to work in the U.S.

Youth may apply now through Friday, April 30, HERE. Required paid training begins May 18. Bus passes will be available as needed.  As the employer of record, the City will process youth applications and match them to available positions.

“We know planning for the summer seems so far in the distance especially with these cold temperatures so youth may not realize that summer is actually right around the corner,” said Shannon Harris, interim executive director of Our Community’s Children. “This is why we’re extending the youth application date to Friday, April 30th. This will be an experience they will never forget, and it just may be what’s needed to ignite their dreams.”

Participants in GRow1000 will have the opportunity to gain work experience and social capital in the following sectors: local government, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, youth development, community development, tech, video production, finance, the arts, public relations, higher education and more. This accounts for 450 jobs with more registering daily.

More than 60 businesses and organizations have committed to hosting a GRow1000 youth and an additional 21 businesses, foundations and individuals have committed to supporting the program financially.