Nurturing Community – Kinship of Polk County

As printed in the Intercounty Leader on Oct. 4, 2023


“Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” – Rita Pierson


Kinship of Polk County was established in 1980 as a youth mentoring program focusing on prevention through relationships with caring, volunteer mentors. These social connections provide opportunities for increased health and well-being and increased resiliency in youth.


Kinship serves at-risk youth ages 5-18 throughout Polk County. Through spending regular and consistent time together, Kinship mentors create trust, help youth build problem solving skills, promote a sense of purpose, and show youth what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. Mentors support and nurture healthy development, encourage positive life choices, build self-confidence, and introduce youth to new life experiences. Kinship serves more than 300 youth each year.


“I’m just grateful for this program and the amazing match that you made for me with my mentor. Keep doing what you’re doing. It has changed my life.” – Community-Based Youth 2023

Kinship evaluates the effectiveness of mentoring each year through surveys completed by the families, mentors, teachers, and children involved. The results of these surveys prove that mentoring is successful. For example, 100% of the youth surveyed in 2022 said they are happier when they are with their mentor. 100% of youth believe they are better people because of their mentor. 97% of the mentors rate Kinship as good to excellent and 100% believe they receive enough ongoing support from the Kinship Team. 93% of mentors believe the program has surpassed their expectations.


“We have felt completely supported throughout our time as Kinship mentors and I would highly recommend this program to anyone who would like to give back to our community. It has been rewarding in more ways than I ever would have anticipated and we are grateful that we had the opportunity to participate.” – Kinship Mentor


Volunteer mentors are critical to Kinship’s success and we are always looking for mentors. Kinship has a unique opportunity to address youth mental health through impactful mentoring relationships and the Kinship community. The 2022 Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health Annual Report states, “Being part of a social network beyond family is important for all kids. Youth who are part of a social network beyond family are less likely to internalize stress, have reduced feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety and have overall better well-being.”

For more information about Kinship of Polk County, visit the website at, or email

The Northwest Alliance Community Foundation is an affiliate of the St. Croix Valley Foundation. We support our area nonprofits with educational opportunities and grants. Please consider joining us by making a donation. See our website for more information or email