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5th Annual Super Chefs Sets New Record

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On November 2nd, Change for Kids partnered with 11 nationally-celebrated chefs to raise more than $700,000 at its 5th annual Super Chefs benefit.

Christian Isaiah, Super Chefs student speaker, took center stage and spoke in front of hundreds of guests. This is something he could never have imagined doing a few years ago. “I used to be really shy. But that’s no longer the case thanks to the CFK opportunities I had in school, along with the support of the Brooklyn Landmark community,” he said.

Christian credits CFK programs and experiences throughout elementary school with helping him become the confident, articulate and self-motivated 6th grade student he is today. “I know I’m unique and I’m on the right path,” he said. “I take education very seriously and know it’ll lead me to success.”

Thanks to our incredible Super Chefs supporters, Change for Kids will be able to impact more students like Christian next year as we expand the network of CFK partner schools benefiting from the academic, social and emotional resources we provide.

 Check out a new CFK Video featuring Christian below!
#WhyCFK

Our New Look

Looking Forward with Change for Kids: Our Schools, Our City, Our Future
Since its founding in 1996, Change for Kids has encouraged students to dream bigger and achieve more. Recently, we felt that our messaging, visual identity and tagline did not clearly convey our ultimate goal of bridging the opportunity gap to give all our children access to quality education. That’s why we re-examined our messaging – to make it easier for you to understand and communicate #WhyCFK matters – because 75% of children who struggle with reading in the 3rd grade will never catch up to their peers unless they get the help they need in elementary school.

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Our new logo has been redesigned as a pencil rocket to reflect Change for Kids’ approach of bringing critical resources into underserved elementary schools to prepare every student for success in middle school and beyond. Change for Kids’ model is designed to impact students’ academic achievement and social-emotional development by engaging them early on so they stay on track academically.

Our tagline, “Our Schools, Our City, Our Future,” speaks to citywide community engagement from energized New Yorkers–like you–who invest volunteer hours, money and resources in our partner schools. This special CFK community makes a difference in the lives of our children and ensures our city’s future remains a vibrant one.

Thank you for your continued support of Change for Kids. Together, we can build a stronger New York City by investing in our public elementary schools.

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Back to School Update

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Welcome from Our New Executive Director, Katrina S. Huffman

I am humbled to exercise my servant-leadership as Change for Kids’ new Executive Director. For the past month, I have been impressed by the staff’s unbridled commitment to invest in NYC’s neediest public elementary schools. I am in utmost awe of our community—from our board, business leaders, principals, and funders—who recognize the importance of bridging the opportunity gap for youth in vulnerable communities.

In my past role as Chief Program Officer at Youth INC, I participated in empowering youth-serving nonprofits through leadership development programs that indirectly affect public school students. I look forward to making a direct impact on NYC’s youth at CFK. Colin Smith did a remarkable job as Executive Director by growing CFK’s community and impact. My focus in the next few years is to develop our network of schools, measure our success, and deepen our influence at our schools.

An investment in our youth is an investment in our future as a city and a nation. As a product of New York state schools from Kindergarten to college, I am eager to work with you to continue this critical work of providing enriching opportunities to NYC’s youth. Together, we will help thousands of students become lifelong learners who excel emotionally, socially, and academically.

Regards,
Katrina S. Huffman


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CFK Highlight: Two New Partner Schools from the Bronx to the Sea

While students enjoy the last of their summer days, CFK is preparing to welcome two more schools into our network this year—P.S. 6X in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx and P.S. 329 in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

  • Principal Tiawana Perez has created a collaborative culture at P.S. 6X with the belief that it takes a village of stakeholders—from parents and staff, to partners like CFK—to educate students. She is teaming up with CFK to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of her students.
  • Principal Salema Marbury has established numerous student-led initiatives at P.S. 329 to combat absenteeism and help students discover their unique talents. She is partnering with CFK to further expose students to diverse, engaging experiences that prepare them for middle school and beyond.

We cannot wait to start the school year and work with our new and returning partner schools!


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School Spotlight: RBC Volunteers Prep P.S. 142 for Back to School

This summer, more than 200 RBC Capital Markets Interns stepped away from their desks and volunteered their time to help P.S. 142 get ready for the first day of school. To make the day even more special, RBC announced a $25K grant to P.S. 142 for the upcoming school year, which will fund CFK programs and resources. Principal Daphna Gutman reiterated to RBC staff and interns that they are making a tremendous impact on the school community.

RBC interns participated in a variety of projects—from leading arts and crafts with summer camp attendees to creating personalized pencil cases for every student at P.S. 142. The interns left behind the cases filled with all the back to school essentials, including a hand-written note of encouragement.

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Welcoming Our New Executive Director

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On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am thrilled to share exciting news. After an extensive search, we have named Katrina Huffman as Change for Kids’ new Executive Director! Katrina will officially join CFK at the end of this month.

Katrina brings a wealth of expertise, enthusiasm, and vision to lead Change for Kids into our next stage of growth. She is currently the Chief Program Officer of Youth INC, a venture philanthropy organization that provides leadership development programs and grants to 75 NYC youth-serving nonprofits. Prior to Youth INC, she served as a Program Director at Harlem Children’s Zone and Groundwork.

As a native New Yorker, Katrina is passionate about ensuring that all NYC students receive a quality education. We firmly believe that she will inspire the CFK community to achieve even greater impact in the years to come.

I look forward to introducing you to Katrina soon, and to Change for Kids’ bright future under her leadership.

– Nicolas Koechlin, Board Chair

#WhyCFK, P.S. 81, Uncategorized

P.S. 81 Students Get Moving

In NYC, 1 in 5 kindergarten students are obese, and almost three quarters of elementary school children did not receive the state-mandated minimum amount of exercise last school year. That’s #WhyCFK hosts family fitness events at our partner schools—to get even our youngest students into a habit of physical activity.

P.S. 81 in Brooklyn recently held the school’s Community Wellness Fair. While parents scoured the auditorium and met with multiple community organizations that offer health and wellness services, students participated in fitness activities to get their bodies moving. Some students tried yoga for the first time, while others tested their backward jump roping skills. CFK Board Member Laura Farah joined in on the fun and encouraged students to test their limits!

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CFK in the News

Executive Director Colin Smith reflects on 8-year tenure at Change for Kids

You have been the Executive Director at Change for Kids since 2009. What was your first year like?

Tough, Colin-Smith_1 (1)but surprisingly fun. Raising money in 2009, during the heart of the Great Recession, was difficult to say the least. We were essentially building a donor base from scratch at a time when everyone was seeing their disposable income and wealth collapse – particularly in NYC. They were looking for ways to cut donations, the needs at our partner schools were getting even more challenging, and we had minimal infrastructure in place to address either challenge. Three things made it “surprisingly fun.” First, starting over allowed us to rethink every aspect of the organization. Second, we could envision a brighter future and I think people were really looking for that brightness in those pretty dark days. And third, the sheer extent of the challenge made the small group that signed on (for the Board, Junior Council, and staff) as tight as any team I’ve been a part of. The staff at the time were two folks, both of whom were some of my favorite co-workers: Mike Quinzio, a great friend from college; and my little sister, Caitlin (it doesn’t get much more grassroots than that). We had a blast together every day. It felt like we were all in this together, working toward a crazy, ambitious goal. I’m proud that those ethos have been maintained ever since.

What are you most proud of accomplishing as Executive Director?

That’s hard. I’m proud of all of the last 8 years – not only he good times, but how we’ve responded to a lot of times when we were on the ropes. But if I’m forced to pick one, it’s Super Chefs 2015. That year, we brought our annual gala to a new level. We were closing in on ten schools- it seemed as though the organization was light-years ahead if where it had been, even just the year before.  We hosted 600+ supporters and the night was capped off with a speech by an amazing student, Leonard, who sparked tears of joy from an inspired crowd as he talked eloquently about the impact we had made in his life. Then and there I saw just how far Change for Kids had come over the years. The picture of Leonard, his principal and I at the event still adorns my office as my single fondest CFK memory.

Kids say the darndest things. Tell us about one of your favorite moments with a student or group of students.

It’s hard to beat one of my first experiences with Change for Kids, almost ten years ago. I had just joined the Junior Council and volunteered to chaperone a field trip to the Central Park Zoo. When I hopped on the bus from the school to the Zoo, I noticed one student sitting by himself and staring off to the distance outside of his window. I sat next to him and struggled to chat with him on the ride down. It turns out he was in the special education program and had a particularly difficult time socially. When we arrived at the Zoo, my primary job was to keep up with that particular student for the entire trip. The task severely stretched my limited fitness. He darted around the Zoo, pointing out different animals and asking me 100 questions along every stop in our obstacle course. When the trip ended, I rode back with him and didn’t feel like either of us paused our conversation for a breath. The next week, I received a letter from the student’s teacher saying that she had never seen him more engaged in school (and happier) than in the days following that trip. I was hooked from that point on.

What advice would you give the incoming Executive Director?

Bring your A game because we have a staff, Board, principals and supporters who don’t miss a beat. We just held our April Board meeting, focused on next year’s strategic goals, and the depth of the engagement and conversation was inspiring. Our team wants to do big things, and it has the horsepower to achieve those goals. I feel the same when I speak with sponsors, pushing for their next volunteer activity; or schools, driving us to provide greater service. Our community is an impressive collection of talent and drive. Enjoy it because that’s a real, and unique, privilege.

What’s next for you after CFK?

First, I never want there to be an “after CFK.” I’m planning on taking a different leadership role here, but this place will always be a central passion in my life. I see us becoming a national organization, helping hundreds of thousands of students. And I want to do my part in the years ahead to help make that happen. But to directly answer the question… I want to make the largest impact I can. What that looks like next is TBD. I’m looking forward to exploring industries and opportunities where I feel like I can leverage my time and leadership to make a difference – whether that’s a for-profit, nonprofit or in public service. This is an exciting time for my wife and me as we look to our next chapter.

#WhyCFK

Thank You, Teachers!

Teachers at Change for Kids partner schools go above and beyond…

By encouraging critical thinking in students:

Strive for student engagement

By putting in the extra hours after school for awesome family engagement events- like Books and Pajamas Night:

The teachers who put in the extra hours

By exposing students to new activities and experiences:

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By creating a welcoming environment with creative decorations:

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By ensuring that lessons are interactive and hands-on:

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By creating a love for literacy:

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By fostering creativity in students:

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And lastly, by creating lifelong learners.

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Thank you teachers