One look at the passion of the teaching staff and Nels Johnson was hooked!

Mentoring kids, while working as a Marketing Director in Bellevue, Washingon brought Nels Johnson satisfaction but he wasn’t convinced his business background would translate to impact as a school volunteer.

So what changed his mind? An invitation to sit in on a faculty meeting revealed a small but mighty staff that celebrated the small successes at Maya High School and obviously loved the kids. His first order of business? Repair the relationship between the school and nearby businesses. Fighting among some of the students left the community with a bad impression of the school. Nels set out to show them another side to the student body.

The saying – it takes a village – really is true. Nels showed community business leaders the need for partners to become involved as donors, mentors and allies of Maya and its students. Before you know it, a professionally facilitated focus group formed and a plan for collaboration was born. The kids gained relationships, employment opportunities and advice on how to succeed, while local businesses found loyal customers from a grateful school community. Everyone wins!

But Nels did not stop there. He was determined to show Maya kids that college was a possibility and worth the effort. Introducing College 101; complete with dorm visits, lecture attendance, an introduction to financial assistance and one-on-one mentoring with current college students at Grand Canyon University. The tide is turning.

“You might be surprised how your unique experiences can be repurposed in new ways to make a difference.”

– Nels Johnson