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Empowering Youth

Equipping youth for the journey ahead

Base Camp Urban Outreach

The Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation is committed to providing the resources and tools for youth to achieve their full potential and believes positive environments and encouragement are essential for the lifelong success of young people in our community.   

Base Camp Urban Outreach aims to provide a safe haven to local, inner-city youth living in challenging circumstances. It equips them with the tools and skills to thrive in a chaotic world, overcoming poverty and combating inequality along the way.

Through a caring community of businesses, churches, and volunteers, Base Camp provides free, Christ-centered after-school and summer programs to youth (ages 7-17) from the Burton Heights and Roosevelt Park neighborhoods.

Open every afternoon and three nights a week, Base Camp provides structured programs focused on education, recreation, and spiritual growth. Youth receive homework support and academic tutoring with mentors from Cornerstone University and participate in daily activities that encourage literacy, numeracy, STEM, spiritual growth, positive life management, life skills development, and community leadership. With nearly a 1:1 ratio of youth to volunteers, Base Camp youth are impacted by positive role models and affirmed each day.

“Many of our kids come from Spanish-speaking homes where help with homework is not possible. Homework struggles are further complicated by a lack of resources available in the schools they attend. Research shows that urban youth in Grand Rapids read at least two grade levels below grade,” says Executive Director Kelly Ellis.

“Base Camp’s educational programs provide the assistance and resources they cannot receive at home or school. Program evaluations show marked improvement, and, with consistent participation, 96% of youth are now reading at/above grade level.”

Base Camp also provides the opportunity for youth to discover their value and ability to be positive contributing members of our community. “Base Camp instills God has a plan for their lives, guiding them into an understanding of who Jesus is and how He can transform their lives, enabling them to become all that He intends them to be,” says Ellis. “We tell our youth they are valuable, gifted, and talented.”

Since its inception, Base Camp has impacted thousands of youth and continues to be a haven for youth in the Burton Heights and Roosevelt Park communities.

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Working together in small groups teaches teamwork and collaboration.
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Students participate in outdoor recreation activities throughout the summer and winter months.
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Positive role models provide homework help and academic tutoring.
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