Kinship Partners plans to expand its Lunch Buddies, a school-based mentoring program, to more schools in the Brainerd area.

Lunch Buddies has been set up in schools in Staples, Motley, Pequot Lakes and Crosby since 2015 and made its debut in Brainerd at Harrison and Riverside Elementary last year, a news release stated. Kinship Partners plans to start a Lunch Buddy program at Garfield Elementary School this fall with hopes of expanding to every elementary school in the Brainerd School District as well as Pine River-Backus Elementary in the near future.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

"In life, we are provided few situations in which we are rewarded just by walking into a room," Kinship Partners stated in a news release. "Mentoring is one of those situations.

"Kinship Partners youth mentoring program believes that all kids deserve a positive relationship with a caring adult. Our focus is not on problems after they occur. Rather, Kinship Partners focuses on providing youth the social and emotional developmental support they need to prevent problems from happening in the first place."

Studies have shown that mentoring improves a child's social skills and builds self-esteem. This, in turn, fosters a better attitude for learning and ultimately improves school success, the release stated.

Harrison Elementary Principal Cathy Nault stated: "Having a student do something they're interested in one-on-one with an adult is going to have a positive impact, I think that's fabulous. Kinship Partners Lunch Buddy program is at a critical crossroads. Lunch Buddies has grown faster than anticipated and Kinship Partners has lost key funding that is jeopardizing launching some or all of our Lunch Buddy programs this fall."

Kinship Partners must raise $30,000 before Sept. 1 to ensure all current Lunch Buddy

programs can start in October.

People may make a donation online at or by mail it to Kinship Partners,

PO Box 642, Brainerd, MN, 56401.

In 32 years, Kinship Partners has never received any governmental support. With offices in Brainerd, Pequot Lakes, Crosby and Staples, Kinship Partners serves area families by

providing positive role models to youth from the ages of 5 to 14. Mentors can be individuals, couples or families.

For more information about becoming a Kinship Partners mentor, call 218-829-4606, or visit