Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week

Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week 2024 is April 22-26 and it’s the perfect time to recognize, appreciate, and advocate for those who work with young people during out-of-school hours. As part of the collective efforts to encourage appreciation and support for all the afterschool professionals who make a profound difference in the lives of young people, we’d like to spotlight one of the afterschool superstars from our Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP)!

Jen Johnson is the Mentor Specialist for RAMP at Peckham in Flint, Michigan. Her main role includes recruiting and onboarding mentors for the site’s youth participants, as well as leading a weekly session where they work together to set goals, explore different paths and work on valuable life skills. “I also follow up with the students after they transition from the program, continuing to support them in their journey,” shares Jen.

Jen’s team provides youth and re-entry services for students in Genesee county: “Our programming is STEM and career based, providing our participants with one-on-one, group, and peer mentoring geared towards goal-setting and attainment,” says Jen. “In the past, we have offered after school services and homework help for students in the program or in the general community, and we’re currently forming new relationships to partner with schools and educational programs to provide bridging services again.” The Peckham RAMP site also partners with museums and other organizations to facilitate events for social enrichment and family engagement.

When speaking about the importance of her work and RAMP, Jen notes that “the youth in this area are particularly vulnerable. As children, they’ve already experienced environmental injustice, [and] many are impoverished and living in high-crime areas with underserved and understaffed school districts. Most are just trying not to fall through the proverbial cracks. RAMP and other afterschool services are the net that can catch and prevent them from going down a wrong path to begin with, but also the ropes that have the power to pull them back up and give youth a positive place to be. We have a duty to cultivate spaces like this, where students know they are valued, cared for and supported. It’s where they thrive the most.” 

We’re so grateful for leaders like Jen, who love using their skills to make a difference in their community. She notes, “I enjoy seeing the youth we serve discover themselves. A lot of these kids are court involved or have parents [or] family members who are in the system, so they’re no stranger to programs and institutions. The difference here is largely the people. We’re all basically hand-picked for our passion to serve and uplift these students and support their families. They are aware that we want to see them excel, and that we believe they can! Every day I show them I mean business by encouraging them to think in ways they may never have, [and] speak life into them so they may do the same for themselves and others. I love to see them recognize this and begin to blossom more every week, sometimes helping others break out of their shells along the way.”

To learn more about RAMP, please visit

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