What is K-grams?

Our Mission

The mission of K-grams is to establish a strong community of learning for a wide range of college and elementary students, staff, and families by developing positive relationships and experiences that extend beyond the classroom.

Short for "Kids Programs," K-grams is a mentoring and learning program that pairs up college and elementary school students through a suite of programs. An entirely student-led organization, K-grams brings people together from all facets of the University of Michigan campus and the local community. 

K-grams presents the following programs

The main program in K-grams is the pen pal program that pairs up over 1,000 college student with elementary students from nine schools in Southeastern Michigan for monthly letter exchanges. The pen pal program welcomes only college students who are residents in one of the traditional residence halls on U of M's campus. Giving residents an opportunity to interact with outside communities, K-grams helps college students create a sense of pride and community within their residence halls. Through letter writing parties, rez hall socials, mentoring, classroom projects, and other special programs, residents are encouraged to have fun and get involved within their hall.

College students sign up during Welcome Week (first week in September) to become pen pals. Once they are chosen, they are matched up with an elementary school student.  Each month, college pen pals write to and receive letters from their elementary buddies, while taking advantage of the many opportunities to meet their buddies through BookMARK, classroom projects, and Kids-Fair. 

A mentoring and reading program, K-grams BookMARK (Mentoring And Reading with Kids) gives college students the opportunity to visit elementary school classrooms on a weekly basis to work with K-5 students, helping them with reading, writing, and other special assignments. This program welcomes EVERYONE on campus to participate. Organized into daily sessions, BookMARK takes place Monday through Friday at different times during the day. As determined by the BookMARK Coordinators and teachers, each session is set up slightly different. While many sessions involve volunteers working one-on-one with students, some sessions include working in groups and facilitating group activities, depending on the needs of the classroom.

Class projects are "edu-active" (educational and interactive) activities where college students visit elementary school classrooms to interact with and engage K-5 students in a valuable educational experience. These special "kids programs" provide college students with an opportunity to visit the classrooms on a regular basis and work with students face-to-face.

Ranging from writing stories to interactive mock elections, there are unlimited project ideas! Projects often build upon themes and subjects that the little kids are learning about during the year. They are typically organized by the Hall Heads for the different residence halls, but ANYONE is welcome to brainstorm project ideas and help organize them.

Want to get your student group involved in K-grams? There are opportunities for your organization to attend BookMARK sessions and classroom projects throughout the year. If you are interested in getting your student group involved contact us at umsmile@gmail.com

 The highlight of the year-long program is the K-grams Kids-Fair, where elementary school pen pals, college students, parents, teachers, and faculty fill Cliff Keen and the IM Sports Building at the University of Michigan to celebrate a year of friendship and learning. This expansive participation makes Kids-Fair the single largest student-run volunteer event on campus. These elementary school pen pals spend an entire day with college buddies, participate in hundreds of activities sponsored by over 100 student organizations, and experience different highlights of college in one day!