#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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#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

#WhyCFK

Ready for Our Next Great Leader

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Today, we announce an exciting new chapter in the Change for Kids journey. After an incredible eight­-year tenure, our Executive Director, Colin Smith, has decided to hand over the reins of Change for Kids this summer.

“It has been an exceptional honor to guide CFK’s development. I am so proud of the difference we are making every day at our partner schools, and am confident the best is yet to come,” says Colin. “CFK will always be one of the most important parts of my life and I look forward to playing a different role in its bright future.”

Colin will be handing off an organization that is flourishing: CFK has grown to serve 10 partner schools and benefit over 3,700 NYC students. With an annual budget of nearly $2,000,000, an outstanding staff and Board of Directors, and a community of more than 10,000 dedicated supporters, CFK is poised to continue growing its impact for years to come.

Colin took on the role of Executive Director amidst the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis – a period when CFK, like many other small nonprofits, was on the brink of collapse. A Vice President at Atlantic­-Pacific Capital, he elected to put his investment banking career on hold to help.

“Colin has led with remarkable vision and drive, transforming CFK into the thriving organization it is today,” says Nicolas Koechlin, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “It is no surprise that he has made this decision only now, when CFK is stronger than ever.”

The CFK Board of Directors has formed a transition team to guide the search for CFK’s next Executive Director. “The Change for Kids mission is more crucial than ever,” says Koechlin. “We are looking for another exceptional leader who will guide CFK into its next phase of growth.”

The entire Change for Kids team, its leadership and school communities are grateful for Colin’s years of service. We wish him the best in his next endeavors, and look forward to introducing everyone to our new Executive Director later this summer.

#WhyCFK, CFK Program Partners

Third Grade Students Destined for the New York Times Bestseller List

Hundreds of Change for Kids students this year had the opportunity this school year to participate in Story Pirates workshops where they let their imaginations run wild. Change for Kids partners with Story Pirates to promote creativity at our partner schools. Story Pirates hosts a series of creative writing workshops, where students learn that there are no bad ideas! After students finish their works of art, the Story Pirates bring to life select stories by acting them out at an all-school wide assembly. Change for Kids volunteers also read the students’ work and provide them with positive, hand-written feedback–aka a lil’ bit of “Story Love.”

Now meet the up-and-coming New York Times bestseller authors!

The Walking Pizza Who Became a Robot

“Once there was a pizza walking in the woods. Then a mean wizard turned him into a robot. Then he saw his body and it was metal. When he was a robot he named himself Robot Pizza Star. Then he loved being a robot.”

Looks like one happy piece of pizza!

Robot Pizza

Scarm the Alien (Who, By the Way, Loves Chess)

“Once an alien time there was a kid alien named Scarm. He liked to play chess, strategist, play with its horns, to wiggle its tentacles, and learn new things. Scarm lives on a planet called Tar. One day when Scarm was digging, some humans were investigating planet Tar. He was very scared of the humans. He thought they came from the sun. But the humans had sleeping darts. Scarm started to dig faster. Scarm was 5 yards away from getting to the core of Planet Tar. Then a loud sound went, “pew, pew, pew, pew!”

Scarm was frightened. The humans got closer and closer. Scarm had stumbled in his hole. Scarm tried to gather all of his chess pieces, but it was too late. When Scarm woke up he had been glued to paper. The people asked, “Who are you alien?” Scarm replied in an alien way, “squigily, squiggly, X doo.” The humans did not understand.

What do you think happens next? (We hope they became friends and played chess together.)

Scarm the alien

The Carrot Who Has Banana Arms, an Orange Head, and Eight Eyes and Plays Soccer

“Once there was a carrot named Mr. B.J. He has banana arms and an orange head. He also has eight eyes. He likes to play soccer with the team he made up. But one time he accidentally ate his arm when he was playing. He said, “Ahhhhhhhhhhh! I can’t believe I ate my arm! Ahhhhhh! My arm really burns!” So he said, “I’m going to go to the doctor.”  Once he got there they were out of banana arms, so they went to the forest to get some. Unfortunately there were no banana arms in the forest. So they had to get plum arms. But plums don’t grow in carrot land, so they had to go to plum land. But the plum arms didn’t fit.”

How do you think Mr. B.J. solved the banana arm problem?

Mr. B.T.

We don’t know about you, but we’d love to meet these characters in real life!

#WhyCFK, CFK Volunteers

How to Support New York City Public Schools

All children deserve to go to quality public schools. Unfortunately, many NYC public schools in low-income communities cannot provide their students with the resources that support achievement. These schools don’t have the budget to match their needs. In more affluent communities, a school’s parent association is often able to bridge this gap by raising $100,000 or more in a given year.

Change for Kids partners with incredible elementary schools throughout NYC—93% of the students enrolled in our partner schools live in poverty. Our partner principals work tirelessly to provide a quality education for our students, but there are still gaps to fill.  Here’s how you can help.

Volunteer at a Change for Kids partner school. You’ll expose students to a new, engaging opportunity that otherwise wouldn’t be possible without volunteer support. Change for Kids offers a variety of volunteer opportunities – from weekdays, weeknights to weekends – at our partner schools throughout NYC. Activities include school beautification days, field days, career days, guest reading to a classroom and more!

Donate essential items. Do you have children’s books, games or clothing that your family no longer uses? Change for Kids will find the best use for your item, whether it’s a board game or a winter coat, by matching the item with the appropriate school in need.

Donate money. Want to make a difference, but don’t have enough time in the day to volunteer? You can donate to Change for Kids to invest in our public schools and the future of New York City. Your donation will support essential programming that boosts academic achievement such as music, art, fitness and nutrition education—the programs that are often cut first when a school’s budget shrinks.

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#WhyCFK, CFK Events, P.S. 277

Aspiring Fashion Designer and P.S. 277 Alum Naiomi Chacon Visits New York Fashion Week

Naiomi Chacon, a proud graduate of Change for Kids partner school P.S. 277, won the hearts of guests at CFK’s 4th annual Super Chefs as the night’s keynote student speaker. Naiomi spoke about her experiences at P.S. 277 and how an eyeopening CFK field trip to BlackRock got her thinking about her future career as a fashion designer.

“I have a passion for fashion. I sketch looks all the time in my notebook. I like to draw the people around me and add fashion details to their outfits,” Naiomi said at Super Chefs. “One day, I could be a model with her own clothing line. I could design evening wear for the red carpet and walk the catwalk at Fashion Week.”

Although she’s only a 6th grade student, Naiomi is already getting to work. And that inspired many Super Chefs guests.

Eager to encourage this Fashionista to pursue her dreams, Change for Kids Board Member Louise Phillips Forbes coordinated a memorable day for Naiomi: a trip to the February MILLY New York Fashion Week show and backstage access to interview MILLY designer Michelle Smith.

This past February, Naiomi and Louise embarked on their girls day out. The day started off with a special birthday lunch for Naiomi at Del Posto and then onto the MILLY fashion show. Naiomi watched the show in awe, as models gracefully passed by and colorful lights flashed. The sparkly outfits were her favorite! (Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little sparkle?!)

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Naiomi and Louise Phillips Forbes enjoy a lunch at Del Posto before heading to New York Fashion Week
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Naiomi ready for the show to start!

After the show, Naiomi and Louise went backstage to interview MILLY designer Michelle Smith. Naiomi asked Michelle Smith how she comes up with her t-shirt designs, what family members share the same passion as her, and more. Naiomi learned about all the planning that goes into a fashion show and selling a clothing line. Michelle Smith even suggested that her and Naiomi work together to design dress and a “really cool t-shirt.” We can’t wait to see the designs!

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Louise Phillips Forbes, Naiomi, and MILLY designer Michelle Smith backstage at New York Fashion Week

Thank you Louise Phillips Forbes and Michelle Smith for making this amazing opportunity possible for Naiomi. Now we’re counting down until Naiomi takes on New York Fashion Week in 2030!

Watch Naiomi and Louise’s spectacular day and Naiomi’s interview with Michelle Smith below.

#WhyCFK

Double Jeopardy Summary and Study

For years we’ve known that if students don’t read by the third grade, their chances of ever reading proficiently and achieving a high school diploma are substantially decreased.  A recent study, “Double Jeopardy,” written by Hunter College Sociology Professor Donald J. Hernandez and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, looked at the relationship between different levels of poverty and reading in the third grade to determine the effects of even short periods of poverty on graduation levels.  The study reveals that:

  • Students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely not to graduate than proficient readers. This accounts to 16% of poor readers versus 4% of proficient readers
  • Students who don’t master basic reading skills by third grade are 6 times more likely to not graduate
  • To give an apples to apples comparison, the percentage of students not graduating from high school directly correlates to their reading level in the third grade–4% of proficient readers, 9% of basic readers, 23% of below basic readers
  • Poverty also affects graduation rates. 11% of the top readers who spent at least a year living in poverty will not graduate on time.  Only 2% of those who have never experienced poverty and read on grade level graduate late or not at all
  • When poor reading skills are combined with a life lived in any amount of poverty, the rates are even higher: 22% of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school. This is drastically different from those who have never lived in poverty (6%). For those students who have lived in poverty for over half their childhood the rate rises to 32%
  • With a high concentration of poverty and poor schools in their neighborhoods, 31% of African American students and 33% of Hispanic students do not graduate on time 

Given that many of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch, they are up against these same double barriers. And ultimately, 26% of children who experience poverty and reading levels below proficiency will not graduate from high school.

The solution has to come from three sources: schools, families, and governmental policies.  The study suggests that improving these rates means getting parents, schools, and the government working together to create high quality PreKs and summer learning opportunities, to reduce chronic school absences and to increase access to quality healthcare–both to detect early learning problems and to give parents have access to essential support so they can better provide for their children.

As we gain a greater understanding of what early literacy means for students, it is clear that a focus on early elementary-aged students is crucial to help level the playing field and increase graduation rates for the students in our partner schools and children nation-wide.

Read the full study, “Double Jeopardy,” here. Summary by Natalie Auerbach.