RSS

Tag Archives: schools

A Rotta Love Plus

A Rotta Love Plus

In school this past spring, my daughter was given an assignment to write a persuasive letter to her parents.  She attempted to persuade us to get a dog…I think she may have convinced her father, but not me or the cats.  Today’s organization is working to persuade people to understand two specific dog breeds: Rottweilers and pit bulls.

In 1997, A Rotta Love was founded as the first nonprofit Rottweiler rescue organization in Minnesota.  In 2003, A Rotta Love and a Twin Cities’ bit bull rescue named Pits Plus merged to become A Rotta Love Plus.  The organization is a comprehensive and proactive all-volunteer advocacy organization that uses multiple strategies to further their mission of re-homing Rottweilers and pit bulls in Minnesota, raising breed awareness, educating the public about responsible pet ownership, and advocating for the humane and equal treatment of all dogs without prejudice.  They are based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, but they serve the entire greater Twin Cities area.

Pumba

Pumba

A Rotta Love Plus has several programs that further their mission.  Their foster and adoption program takes a “quality-over-quantity” approach to carefully select the dogs that they bring into the program and the homes where they are fostered and adopted.  They also offer ongoing assessment and support for their dogs to ensure ongoing success for the animals.  They rehome approximately 30 to 40 dogs each year.

A Rotta Love Plus builds and foster strong relationships between dogs and owners through their Rott n’ Pit Ed training classes.  These classes, free to fosters and dogs who have been adopted through their organization, offer owners a variety of tools to ensure the right approach is taken for each dog as an individual.  They also offer a Dog Safety/Humane Education program that offers education to youth, adults, and organizations on the humane treatment of animals and reduces the risk of dog bites.  Between 2009 and 2012, this program reached nearly 4,000 individuals.  They also offer free spays, neuters, vaccinations in addition to low-cost micro-chips to pit bulls and Rottweilers.

Vitojoe

Vitojoe

This year they partnered with the Minneapolis Police Department, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, and the Minneapolis Public Schools to bring a Dog Safety program to local elementary schools.  In just one semester, they conducted 46 classes where a group facilitator and two or three volunteers with their trained pit bull or Rottweiler visit a classroom and educate student on the humane treatment of animals and reduction of dog bite risk.

Another program offered by A Rotta Love Plus is their PRIORITY Paws (Pit Bull and Rottweiler Interactive OutReach Instruction and Therapy for Youth) program where they conduct dog-therapy groups with youth in crisis who reside in local youth-services organizations.  The stories of abuse, neglect, and negative social perception of the pit bulls and Rottweilers provide the youth with a powerful parallel that often mirrors their own experiences.  This can inspire the youth and enable them to work through their own crisis using the lessons and skills that only the dogs can teach.  In 2012, their PRIORITY Paws program gave about 700 at-risk youth experience with this unique program.

Sara Nick, Communications Director for A Rotta Love Plus shared just one of their many success stories:

This is the story of Prim, a beautiful brindle pit bull. Prim endured the first couple years of her life in a heart-wrenchingly abusive situation – without going into the ugly details, suffice it to say that when she wound up in a local animal control, it was like heaven on earth. (Food! Rest! Kindness!) Eventually, Prim ran out of time at animal control, but two ARLP volunteers, who were freshly mourning the loss of their 10-year-old pit bull to cancer, decided to push through their heartache and open their home to another dog in need through fostering. ‘When we saw her face and heard her story, we knew without words that we wanted to save her,’ they said. As soon as Prim was in their car, ‘despite not having a clue where she was going, she was smiling ear to ear!’

Ever so gently, Prim’s new fosters took the time to earn her trust. They slowly introduced her to the sights, sounds, smells, and other animals of their household. Prim adjusted well (REALLY well) to their routine and lifestyle, so it came as no surprise when we heard the news not long after that they decided to make Prim a permanent member of their family. In their words, ‘Prim brought life back into our family. She will stop doing whatever she’s doing to come kiss us and let us hold her. She has so much love that she wants to give, and we want to be the ones to give her every success in life.’”

Prim

Prim

How can you help?

The organization’s greatest volunteer need is for foster homes which allow them to save a pit bull or Rottweiler and place them in a loving home until their forever family can be found.  Foster families are provided with everything they need to be successful, including food and supplies as well as free training and support.  Learn more about their foster program on their website.

A list of other current volunteer opportunities can be found here.  You can also give a monetary donation, including dog sponsorships. They also have a wish list of in kind donations.

You can also attend any of their adoption events.  On Saturday, August 10 from 4 to 7 PM, they have a “Beer and Dogs” event at Nomad World Pub (501 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis) where people will have an opportunity to meet some of the dogs they have available for adoption.

You can learn more about A Rotta Love Plus on their website, www.arottalove.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter or follow their blog.

ARLP-3

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Classes 4 Classes

Classes 4 Classes

 

Most of the organizations I write about have a personal and moving story behind their beginning.  Today’s organization was born out of an event that impacted many across the country. 

When I asked the founder of today’s organization for the story behind its beginnings, Kaitlin Roig told a story that I want to share in her words:

“On the morning of December 14, 2012, inside Sandy Hook Elementary, myself and my entire school endured one of the worst tragedies imaginable. Twenty-six lives were taken too soon, too senselessly, and too brutally. In the midst of this unimaginable loss, which could have resulted in the loss of my own life, I knew I had to find meaning again.

In the wake of the tragedy, I experienced a deep need to create positive change by choosing, love, caring, consideration, compassion, empathy, and hope. In doing so, I made a commitment to teach that to my students—to our nation’s students—by creating an opportunity for them to be a part of something incredibly meaningful through their school curriculum.

As a teacher, I was well aware that teaching a social curriculum often gets overlooked in many classrooms, where the emphasis is so heavily placed on academic testing and more traditional subject areas. I knew the importance and meaningful impact of teaching students how to treat, interact, and empathize with others, and witnessed it being lost in the mix. I experienced first-hand that children need to be taught kindness, caring, compassion, and empathy, and knew, in the moment of the tragedy, that it was part of her responsibility as a teacher to make sure this happened. This is where I got the idea for Classes 4 Classes, Inc.”

The mission of Classes 4 Classes, Inc. is to teach every child in the United States to have a genuine interest in the wellbeing of others, by providing a platform through which to actively engage them in social curriculum. Students will learn kindness by being kind, they will learn to care by caring, and they will learn empathy by being empathetic. The organization enables students to learn to care for others not by talking but by doing, which cultivates a message that our lives are not separate, but connected.  When kindness, compassion, love and empathy are actively taught, there is no room for hate.

For teachers, the Classes 4 Classes website outlines a process to engage your class in a caring curriculum.  The step-by-step process guides teachers through picking another classroom to adopt through getting the funds to that classroom.  Students in one elementary school classroom give a gift that fulfills a need or educational objective of another elementary school class, anywhere in the country.  The organization promotes a “pay it 4ward” attitude because the receiving classroom is only able to accept their gift after they have selected another classroom to give to.  There are also curriculum ideas for engaging students in learning a social curriculum, not by talking about kindness and empathy but by actually living it. 

Phase 1 of the organization launched in April 2013 and they already have 14 classrooms that have launched projects to provide gifts for 14 other classrooms and nine of those projects have already been fully funded!  Donors have contributed over $9,000 to fund iPads, Kindles, textbooks, white boards, and projectors for classrooms across the country.  Additionally, $7,000 has been donated directly to support the Classes 4 Classes mission. 

Kaitlin also told me, “Classes 4 Classes’ ultimate goal is not the dollar amount provided by donors, nor the gifts that that money is funding, but the positive influence that grows out of the donor’s contributions. They allow students to participate in a project and to act on behalf of someone else this has an extreme impact on a young mind. C4C aims to positively impact the social climate through the youngest and most influential members of our society, so that they are more likely prevented from ever experiencing a tragedy like the one that occurred at Sandy Hook.”

How can you help?

  • Anyone can support the mission of Classes 4 Classes, Inc. by visiting their website, classes4classes.org.  You can scroll through the list of projects and donate directly to your favorite. 
  • You can also make a donation directly to Classes 4 Classes, Inc. on their website.
  • You can also spread the word to elementary school teachers in your community by sharing my blog post.

You can learn more about Classes 4 Classes, Inc. on their website, classes4classes.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Action For Healthy Kids

Rob Bisceglie CEO of Action for Healthy KidsI recently had the opportunity to interview Rob Bisceglie, the CEO of Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK).  This organization works to fight childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can live healthier lives.  They provide resources to volunteers in schools and school health leaders across the country to learn about physical activity and nutrition best practices in school, act through programs which promote healthy lifestyles and wellness policies in schools, and transform schools to provide healthier foods, physical education and comprehensive physical activity for all students.

Blogunteer: Rob, can you start by telling me how your organization began?

Rob Bisceglie:
We were formed in response to the December 2001 special report, The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, issued by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. That very sobering report examined the serious obesity problem impacting all segments of our communities and identified schools as a key setting for addressing childhood obesity.

It was such a startling call to action that in October 2002, nearly 500 experts in children’s health and education convened in Washington, D.C. at the first Healthy Schools Summit to address schools’ role in reducing childhood obesity. Out of that meeting, Action for Healthy Kids was launched with 51 State Teams (this includes Washington, D.C.) and 30 partner organizations. Dr. Satcher became the founding chair of our Board of Directors.

Since then, legions of truly dedicated AFHK volunteers – from within the ranks of our 50,000+ network – have worked diligently across the country to fight childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can be healthier. Through their efforts, we’re bringing fun physical activity and nutrition lessons and changes to classrooms, cafeterias and school playgrounds so kids can eat nutritiously and play actively every day that they attend school.
Action for Healthy Kids

Blogunteer: There are a lot of organizations working with kids, what makes Action for Healthy Kids unique? 

Rob Bisceglie:
We provide schools with everything they need – programs, grants, volunteer support and technical expertise – to create healthier environments so students can thrive.

Since our founding, Action for Healthy Kids and our 70+ partner organizations have turned the spotlight on the childhood obesity crisis so that it’s now widely acknowledged as a top priority by health and public health professionals, government leaders, school systems and the popular media.

Blogunteer: Do you have any facts you would like to share about your work?

Rob Bisceglie:
Our volunteer and constituent network has grown from fewer than 700 in 2002 to more than 50,000 (and still growing) in 2013.  Last year, our volunteers contributed more than $6 million of their time and resources to schools nationwide.  Last year, we reached more than 20,000 schools and 8 million kids through our volunteers and State Teams.

Although there are tens of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of fantastic non-profit and government organizations working every day to combat the obesity epidemic, the most recent projections around the epidemic state that by 2030, 50% of Americans may be overweight or obese, unless we reverse the trend.  So, there is still considerable work to be done.

Blogunteer: Sounds like there is still a lot of work to do!  What is a recent accomplishment of Action for Healthy Kids that you would like to share with my readers?

Rob Bisceglie:
Through our work to expand school breakfast programming this school year, we are supporting schools as they serve an additional 1 million breakfasts to hungry kids. I’m proud of that program given the importance of school breakfast on student health and academic achievement. We note in The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn, for example, that on average students who eat school breakfast have been shown to attend 1.5 more days of school per year and score 17.5 percent higher on standardized math tests.
Blogunteer: Do you have any specific stories of how your organization has made a difference? 

Rob Bisceglie:
Yes, there quite a few. One of the things I’m proudest of is how truly committed our volunteers are to fighting childhood obesity and ensuring kids and their families understand the importance of physical activity and good nutrition.

Blogunteer:
Rob shared the story of Allison Stewart, a mom who sought out ways to make a difference when her daughter shared that she was rewarded with a cookie for doing her school work.  Allison found Action for Healthy Kids online and was impressed by the number of resources available to parents who want to make a difference in the area of school wellness.  Allison says her efforts are not just about combating childhood obesity, but also about teaching kids how to be healthy.  You can read more about Allison here.

Rob also shared the story of Linda Miller, another Colorado mom who made it her mission to get all the students at her son’s elementary school a free breakfast.  Linda did her research and shared the link between a healthy breakfast and academic success to encourage school leaders to serve breakfast to every student in school.  You can read more about Linda and other AFHK success stories here.

Blogunteer: How can others get involved in Action For Healthy Kids? 

Rob Bisceglie:
Our volunteers focus their efforts on increasing opportunities for kids to play actively and eat well. These are, after all, the two proven paths to ensuring kids are healthy and ready to learn. So, volunteers, for instance, might introduce students to “healthy” foods through tastes tests using our free program Game On! The Ultimate Wellness Challenge. They might participate in a Get in the Action event at a local school and install or refurbish playground equipment. Or, they might provide educational information to school superintendents, teachers and parents to organize statewide meetings on school health issues for legislators. Volunteer work really varies and is always based on the needs of the local schools, communities and, of course, the kids.

Here’s a sampling of how people can get involved as AFHK volunteers:

  • Help schools develop and put into place wellness policies or action plans
  • Serve on or advise school wellness councils
  • Help schools understand and bridge cultural differences
  • Offer expertise and coaching to help schools put in place Action for Healthy Kids’ programs, including Game On! The Ultimate Wellness Challenge and Students Taking Charge, that will bring their action plans to life

Anyone who is interested in volunteering with Action for Healthy Kids can do so  by clicking the “Volunteer” button right on our website.  And, starting next school year, Action for Healthy Kids will launch a new online Volunteer Center in which our volunteers will be matched to volunteer opportunities happening in their local schools.  We see this new technology as a game-changer for our field of school wellness.


Blogunteer: Any last comments you would like to share with my readers Rob?

Rob Biscegle:
Yes, please encourage your readers to visit our website, read The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn and take the Every Kid Healthy Pledge. By doing so, they’ll become informed on the issues and learn how easily they can make the kinds of healthful changes that will benefit their children.

Blogunteer:
Thank you to Rob for taking the time to speak to me about Action for Healthy Kids.

If you would like to learn more, visit their website, ActionForHealthyKids.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Flickr.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Kitchen on the Street

Kitchen on the Street

Food trucks have become quite a trend.  There are food truck races on television, websites dedicated to where food trucks are parked for the day and even food truck festivals.  I was excited when a local food truck made a trip to the parking lot of the suburban office building I work at for a special food drive event.  Today’s organization is also using a food truck to make a difference.

In 2005 and 2006 Vince, Lisa and Taylor Scarpinato were volunteering around their community, but always left feeling a deeper calling.  In September of 2006, a family friend and local elementary school principal, Dennis Cagle, came over for dinner and shared stories of hungry children.  One second grade girl went through the school cafeteria and picked up discarded half-eaten foods from other children.  The principal went on to share that many children receive breakfast and lunch from the schools, but go hungry on the weekends.  That night, the family decided to start a non-profit and Kitchen on the Street was born.

The mission of Kitchen on the Street is “Turning Hunger into Hope”.  They fulfill this mission through several programs.  The first program they started was Bags of Hope; backpacks of individually portioned, shelf stable meal and snack foods for children to eat on the weekends.  In their first year, they served 30 children through the Bags of Hope program and have since expanded to serve many more.  The organization also partners with local growers, community gardens, and food banks to distribute fresh produce to families in need through their Fresh Food Distribution program.  They collaborate with local schools, churches, and community centers on events where low income families receive free fresh produce.

The newest program is the Kitchen on the Street Food Truck.  This truck is a traveling kitchen that feeds people, raises awareness, acts as a mobile classroom and helps raise funds for the Bags of Hope program.  The truck was purchased from a $100,000 grant provided by the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The truck is used to teach families about food and nutrition and to teach job skills to adults in need.  The truck also travels to a variety of locations and special events as a catering business that feeds money back into the other Kitchen on the Street Programs.

Kitchen on the Street's Food Truck

The video below talks more about the impacts of childhood hunger and how Kitchen on the Street is making a difference:

How can you help?

  • Become a fan on Facebook or subscribe to their e-news to receive notifications of volunteer opportunities with Kitchen on the Street such as backpack packing events, fresh food handouts, and a variety of other tasks.
  • You can volunteer or participate in the annual Hike for Hunger to raise awareness of childhood hunger.
  • You can also make a monetary donation through the Kitchen on the Street website by clicking the donate button.

Learn more about Kitchen on the Street on their website, KitchenOnTheStreet.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Edible Schoolyard Project

The Edible Schoolyard Project

I grew up watching my mother and grandmother tend their huge gardens full of vegetables and some fruits.  In the last couple years I have started a small garden at home and have watched my kids enjoy helping and even trying the vegetables we have grown (which is a breakthrough moment for my anti-vegetable daughter).  Today’s organization has been bringing vegetables into schools for over 16 years.

In 1995, Alice Waters was quoted in her local paper stating that the school she passed each day looked as if no one cared about it.  The principal of that school, Neil Smith, contacted her to see if she had an idea to help.  Alice, a chef, wanted to start a garden and teaching kitchen at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.  She saw these as tools for enriching the curriculum and the life of the school community.  The idea slowly began to take to form and through the involvement of faculty and parent volunteers, The Edible Schoolyard was born.

The garden and kitchen are not just used to teach gardening and cooking.  Lessons have included teaching fractions in the kitchen and growing heirloom grains to learn about early civilizations.  In addition, students who are involved in the garden are more likely to try the foods grown there.

The mission of the Edible Schoolyard is to create and sustain an organic garden and landscape that is wholly integrated into the school’s curriculum, culture, and food program.  At Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California the Edible Schoolyard curriculum is fully integrated into the school day and teaches students how their choices about food affect their health, the environment, and their communities.

You can watch the Edible Schoolyard in action in this short video:

The Edible Schoolyard Program now supports school garden programs throughout the world by providing resources and tools for teachers, parents, and advocates.  During the summer, the Berkeley location opens their doors to host the Edible Schoolyard Academy to provide hands-on activities, presentations, guided discussions, and curriculum building sessions to provide participants with the tools for teaching edible education.

How can you become involved?

  • Explore the network of school garden programs on the Edible Schoolyard website to see if a school near you is participating.  You can also register your school program.
  • Utilize the resources for school garden programs on the organization’s website or even contribute your own resource.
  • Sign up for the Edible Schoolyard Academy to learn how to incorporate edible education into your school.
  • You can also make a monetary donation to support the Edible Schoolyard program on their website.
  • If you live in Berkeley, California, you can volunteer at the Edible Schoolyard there.  Learn more on their website.  You can also volunteer at a school program near you.  To find one, search here.

To learn more about the Edible Schoolyard, visit their website, edibleschoolyard.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, as well as their newsletter and blog.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Blue Slide Project

The Blue Slide Project

Last summer I wrote about Dana Millington, a mom who is honoring her daughter by creating an inclusive playground in her Minnesota community.  Today’s post is about another mom who has built a playground for her son in Oregon.

When Mona Pinon’s son Isaac was just 4 months old, he was paralyzed after a cancerous tumor injured his spinal cord.  He has been in a wheelchair since he was 18 months old and is now in kindergarten.  In November of 2011, Mona visited the school where Isaac would attend kindergarten and found that he would not be able to play on the school’s playground equipment.  She met with the school principal who suggested she approach the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA).  She went to a meeting, told them what she wanted to do, and asked for help.  They agreed to support the project and Mona agreed to be the fundraiser.  The Blue Slide Project was born.

Over the summer of 2012, Mona and her team of fundraisers held a variety of events to raise money to build a new playground at the Parkside Elementary School in Grants Pass, Oregon.  They held a Bunco Night, Zumbathon, Concerts in the Park, a car wash, yard sales and more.

In July 2012, the construction of Phase 1 began.  You can see the groundbreaking in this video from KDRV TV.  In August 2012, Isaac was able to celebrate his 5th birthday by cutting the ribbon on the new playground.

IMG_7598

The community really rallied around the project to make it become a reality.  One example is a 64 year old man with Parkinson’s Disease who walked 46 miles from Grants Pass to Ashland, Oregon.  He said he was “doing what Isaac can’t.”  He ended his journey with a trip down a slide with Isaac.  Mona said she believed this was possible “because a community believed that ALL children should have the freedom to play.”  She has received e-mails from local residents thanking her for making the playground possible.  Even adults with disabilities are now able to interact with their children at the playground where before they could only watch from the sidelines.

There is a second phase to the project which will resurface the remaining area of the playground.  Anyone can purchase a tile for under $20 to help support the resurfacing.   Mona hopes to work with the local parks department to help make other local parks accessible to all as well.

I asked Mona for her tips to others who want to build an accessible playground in their community and she told me to be prepared to do a lot of research and do not be too proud to ask for help.  Ask the media to share the story of what you are doing.  “Keep your eye to the end and enjoy the people you meet along the way.”

To learn more about the Blue Slide Project, connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or via e-mail.  You can also find the link to donate to the project on their Facebook page.

Watch Isaac use his blue slide here:

Related Post: Madison Claire Foundation

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Keys 4/4 Kids

Do a quick Internet search for the benefits of music education and you will quickly find long lists of benefits including better academic performance, improved creative thinking, and higher self-esteem through self-expression (just to name a few).  There are many organizations dedicated to music and today I profile one of them.

Keys 4/4 Kids is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire young people to believe in themselves through the arts.  The primary programs are the Piano Placement program and he Paint-A-Piano program.  Both programs involve piano donations to low-income homes, churches, schools, or community centers that could not otherwise afford a piano.  The organization also promotes better access to music and the arts to all people by selling pianos and donating the proceeds to support local music and arts programs.  You can see a video about their Piano Placement program here.

Newell Hill began selling donated pianos out of his parent’s garage in 2000 to fund MUSE, an after-school music and arts program in North Minneapolis.  This program helped fill the gap in music and arts education that was created by budget cuts to schools.  He was able to successfully fund the program and felt he had a great opportunity to bring the idea of piano donations to a broader public.

The organization is based in St. Paul, Minnesota and also has locations in Belle Plaine Minnesota, Chicago Illinois, and Kansas City Missouri.  They offer a unique opportunity to recycle used pianos rather than struggling to find a new home for a piano when moving, downsizing homes, or purchasing a new piano.  A piano donation to Keys 4/4 Kids supports local non-profits and allows you to receive a tax deduction.  It also provides a lower cost option for families looking to purchase a piano.

How can you help?

  • First, you can spread the word about this organization!  If you hear someone looking to buy a piano or trying to find a new home for their piano, please suggest they look into Keys 4/4 Kids.  You can find information about piano donations and pianos for sale on their website.
  • They are also currently looking for volunteers to help out on Saturdays to greet customers and even help them pick out pianos.
  • They are also looking for volunteers to assist them with their social media campaigns.

Another project that Keys 4/4 Kids has launched is Pianos on Parade (POP).  This project places ‘artistically transformed’ pianos around the Twin Cities, Minnesota in various outdoor locations for all to play and enjoy.  The idea behind this project is to spur residents and visitors to spontaneously engage with art, music, and one another, creating moments of community and highlighting the city’s exceptional commitment to music and arts.  You can learn more about this program and watch videos about it at PianosOnParade.com.  Below are examples of the pianos as well as a map of their piano locations in 2013.

You can learn more about the Keys 4/4 Kids organization on their website, www.keys44kids.com.  You can also connect with them on Facebook.

 

Pianos on Parade

 

 

Pianos on Parade

Pianos on Parade

Pianos on Parade Map

Click the map for an interactive map.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Youth Frontiers

It seems like bullying and poking fun are just facts of life for kids in school these days, but today’s organization doesn’t feel that needs to be the case.

In 1987, Joe Cavanaugh heard the question, “there are kids who make fun of me every day, can you do anything to stop them?” from a 10th grade girl and he took her question seriously.  Since then, Cavanaugh built an organization based on the idea of fostering safe, positive school communities where students and educators can thrive emotionally, socially and, therefore, academically.

Youth Frontiers is a Minneapolis, Minnesota based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that partners with schools to build cultures of respect where students thrive socially, emotionally and academically. They facilitate retreat programs on the values of kindness, courage, respect and responsibility.  Founder and CEO Joe Cavanaugh states, “We are not succeeding as a society if our children receive an ‘A’ in Math… and an ‘F’ in life.”

There are approximately 2.7 million students who face bullying at school every day.  Youth Frontiers is making a difference!  So far, the organization has served more than one million youth across the country, with the vision to change the way young people treat each other in every hallway, lunch line and classroom of every school in America so that today’s young people can make tomorrow’s world better.

To accomplish their mission, Youth Frontiers offers retreat programs for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. These interactive programs are designed to have the greatest possible impact and function as a catalyst for getting students to care about character. The retreats are developmentally appropriate for each age group and take into account what stressors and issues kids may be facing at school.

The programs can be described as MTV-meets-Aristotle days, featuring loud music, team-building activities, small-group dialogues, powerful presentations and large-group sharing times. Led by professional actors, musicians and youth workers, Youth Frontiers knows how to “speak kid” in a way that students understand, and challenges students to think deeply about their character and behavior.

These retreats enhance social-emotional learning competencies like empathy, perspective-taking and conflict resolution.  Eight of ten students believe that since participating in the Kindness Retreat, their peers are more likely to help someone who is being picked on.  After the Respect Retreat, more students reported feeling a part of their school than before the retreat.  And in focus groups, students reported the retreat leaders’ storytelling and other students’ remarks during the retreat’s closing activity helped them gain perspective.

Youth Frontiers retreats are just one piece of a school’s network of support.  Comprehensive follow-up materials are customized for each age level to remind students of the themes they learned on their retreat, while challenging them to continue to stand up for respect in their schools. Youth Frontiers knows it takes more than curriculum to get kids to care about issues of character and acknowledges that it takes more than one day of each year to truly change a school’s culture.  Yet, these retreats are a critical piece to the puzzle of building healthy and safe schools, and each retreat and its follow-up curriculum contribute to shaping the way students treat each other every day.

How can you help?

Youth Frontiers has opportunities for high school students and adults to be small group leaders at their retreats.  Each year nearly 15,000 volunteers support their programs by leading small groups, establishing the energy and tone of the retreat activities and influencing the student participants with positive leadership.  In addition, they have opportunities to visit a retreat to experience it first-hand. Since they work with kids, all volunteers do require an application and background check.

You can also provide financial support via the Youth Frontiers website.  Youth Frontiers maintains affordable retreat prices for the schools they serve and this would not be possible without philanthropic support from individuals, foundations and corporate donors.

You can learn more about Youth Frontiers on their website, YouthFrontiers.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

In addition, there are opportunities to stay connected with this organization though their newsletter programs.  Visit their newsletter signup page to learn about their weekly character challenge that provides an activity or thought to help us think critically about kindness, courage and respect in our lives as well as newsletters for youth educators.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , ,

drawchange

According to Americans for the Arts, the arts have a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and have proven to help level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries.  Arts education also develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.  Today’s organization is dedicated to giving children an opportunity to express themselves.

drawchange is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to aid global change by supplying the world’s children with art supplies.  Their vision is to provide the tools necessary so each child has the ability to fully express themselves.  They want to provide empowering programs that allow children to effectively visualize a better life for themselves.

drawchange started with a deep passion for the arts of the founder and CEO, Jennie Lobato.   She states, “I know what a difference the arts made in my life as a child and I want to grant that experience to as many children as possible.  I believe it so easy to help with global change.  All it takes for us is granting a child an opportunity to express themselves, thus making them feel empowered.  Some children don’t have the self-esteem to realize that they can visualize a better life for themselves-thus having no hope and even trying.  It is drawchange’s mission to change that mentality and create global change.”

The organization’s motto is “CHILDREN NEED ART”.  It comes from a deep understanding of what the arts mean to children – it helps them express themselves when they may not know the right words.

drawchange recently returned from their second of six trips to Fatima School in Costa Rica.  They we will be visiting this poor school for six consecutive years to evaluate the children’s creativity each year.  Last year the children were tested before any art experiences.  Throughout the year drawchange sent lesson plans to utilize the supplies that were left in the first trip.  This year the children’s creativity levels were re-evaluated and improvement was seen in their levels of creativity – so it is clear that drawchange is making a difference for them.  According to Jennie Lobato, “This means we are effectively giving them a skill to further their advancement in society.  If you cannot visualize your dreams or emergence from poverty, chances are you’ll just stay where you are.”

There are ways to help!  drawchange is seeking volunteers to help with fundraising and day to day operations such as grant writing, marketing, copywriting, fundraising, and more.  They are also always looking for volunteers to want to join on their unforgettable international ‘Art Beyond Borders’ trips.  You can find current volunteer opportunities and a volunteer application on their website.

Donations of supplies and materials are also appreciated.  Glitter, glue sticks, construction paper, and more can be donated.  See their website for a current list or contact  them directly for more information.  Monetary donations are also accepted directly on their website

You can learn more about drawchange on their website www.drawchange.org.  You can follow their blog or YouTube or connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , ,

The Bridge for Youth

High school is tough!  Kids can be mean, there is homework, and your social calendar is quite difficult to manage.  Some kids have it even harder – they are homeless.  In a recent year, the Minneapolis, Minnesota Public Schools counted 5,500 homeless children in the district.  Some of those kids are lucky to find a home with today’s organization.

Bridge for Youth is a 24-hour runaway and homeless youth program in a residential setting in the Minneapolis, Minnesota metropolitan region.  Their mission is helping youth in crisis and their vision is to be the premier resource for youth and families in crisis.  They ensure a continuum of care to provide shelter and support, to reunite families whenever possible, and when it is not, to build independent living skills in young people.  The Bridge for Youth is a community leader in the development of approaches for youth and their families to resolve problems and develop healthier relationships.

The Bridge for Youth was founded by Sister Rita Steinhagen in 1970 as one of the first runaway youth shelters in the nation.  Sister Rita was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Catholic order.  She and her fellow sisters noticed that homeless youth were increasingly vulnerable to exploitation, prostitution, violence, and illness and felt the need to act. 

Each year The Bridge serves over a thousand youth between the ages of 10 and 20 years old.  The families are also helped when applicable.  A continuum of services is offered, from street outreach to homeless youth, short-term emergency shelter, housing skills and career development, and transitional and permanent supportive housing.  Their services are available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If there is a young person in crisis or a parent of a young person in crisis they can call or come in and someone will be available for them.

The Bridge has some amazing results.  Here are just a few of their impressive statistics: 

  • 70% of youth served in the reunification program were safely reunited with parents or extended family.
  • 60% of youth participants in their transitional living program moved to stable living.
  • 100% of youth in transitional living were working and/or going to school.
  • 97% of youth in scattered site supportive housing retained their housing for six months.

The personal stories are also amazing.  One of the many success stories is Valencia McMurray, a young woman who has been on her own since 10th grade.  She spent time living with siblings until they were no longer able to pay rent. Then she did some couch hopping with friends until a school social worker found her a space at The Bridge.  She spent some time in the emergency shelter and then in the transitional housing program.  She was able to graduate high school and earn a four year scholarship to Augsburg College.  You can read her full story here.  There is also a video about six young adults who were impacted my homelessness.

If you live in the Minneapolis area, there are many volunteer opportunities available, including cleaning, yard work, and more.  Volunteers are always needed to do a variety of things depending on their interests and skills.  Groups and organizations are always welcome to hold donation drives or collections.  Individuals can also help with cooking, mock interviews, and more.  You can learn more about current volunteer needs at The Bridge on their website.  

The Bridge also accepts cash and in-kind donations.  You can find donation options as well as their current wish list on their website

Learn more about The Bridge for Youth on their website, www.bridgeforyouth.org.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,437 other followers

%d bloggers like this: