Healthy Harvest 2018

On Tuesday, November 20th, PS 142, one of our thirteen partner schools, celebrated its third annual Harvest Feast. It was exactly what a feast should be: delicious, fun, and a grateful gathering of community. Seventeen of RBC’s volunteers fed over 300 members of our school community with amazing catered food from Sophie’s. An additional sixteen families in transitional housing fed their families the following night with the leftovers, extending the impact of RBC’s generosity from one evening to multiple days of Thanksgiving meals for entire families.  To ensure no one went home hungry or empty-handed, RBC and CFK provided 40 families with amazing food gift baskets via raffle, and five more families received Visa gift cards.

88% – that’s nearly all – of the students in the school are identified as being in economic need by NYC DOE. Which means they are experiencing economic hardship based on temporary housing, eligibility for public housing, and Census tract poverty rates.

The Harvest Feast plays a role in helping PS 142 make its mission of equity and social justice real. The school encourages students to develop a sense of agency and excitement for learning that extends beyond the classroom, and it was a pure delight for CFK’s staff and the RBC volunteers to help feed their bodies as well their minds. The event exemplifies both CFK’s and PS 142’s shared values of being responsive to the needs of the scholars and school community at large.

We are proud to support their efforts in creating an emotionally and academically supportive environment for all students, allowing them to develop empathy for others and be challenged to achieve at high levels.

We’re very grateful to RBC, all the volunteers, and to the entire PS 142 community. It was a truly great night for teachers, kids, parents, and volunteers to bond and feast as one big PS 142 family!

RBC is already making plans for next year’s Harvest Feast to be even more special. Stay tuned!


Thankful #WhyCFK Wednesdays

On Thanksgiving, before we dive into the turkey, my family takes a moment to voice why we are thankful.  Last year my children learned the difference between a need and a want, and we spoke of the needs for which we are so grateful.  We spoke about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how once one’s basic physiological needs are met (food, warmth, shelter, and air), they can focus on the secondary safety needs.  And how once we feel safe, we can focus on the next three tiers: the need to belong and feel loved, the need to feel accomplishment and esteem, and the need to be fulfilled as we aim for self-actualization.

But many families across our city are struggling to meet their basic needs on an ongoing basis.  On a daily basis. In this great city overflowing with resources, we have families struggling for food, warmth, and shelter.  Parents work tirelessly to ensure that their children have a home, three meals a day, and proper clothing to survive NY’s brutal elements.  When food and water are not a given, shelter and clothing become secondary needs.

This past Monday, Change for Kids was able to fulfill one of the basic needs for the students at Brighter Choice Elementary School: warmth.  

I am proud to announce that CFK recently partnered with Operation Warm and Nordstroms to provide each student at BCCS with a new winter coat.  In addition, Operation Warm will be providing coats to the 1,000 students in transient housing at all of our partner schools. Not a lightly used coat, a new coat that they could write their name in and call their own.  A new coat that is rainproof and windproof. And we couldn’t have done it without Operation Warm and Nordstrom’s joining our community. Operation Warm started twenty years ago by donating 58 coats to the local church, and this year will be giving away their 3 millionth coat.  In the words of Operation Warm’s founder, Dick Sanford, “Look around. You can always help someone. It is our responsibility to help each other survive.”

For three magical hours Monday at BCCS, students filed into the gym class-by-class.  Each student was matched with a Nordstrom’s volunteer, and each student was made to feel safe and loved as they received their new coat.  The smiles on their faces were heart-warming. And in return, the students inspired our volunteers. It is not often that one stands in a room where every single person has a smile ear-to-ear, and every single person is connecting with another human being.  

As Zareta Ricks, our Director of Corporate Strategy and Engagement, gave the day’s closing remarks, the following stood out to me.  Addressing the team of Nordstrom volunteers, our Operation Warm partners, and the BCCS and CFK staffs, she spoke about how we must not forget our students’ emotional needs. “We can focus on their intellectual needs, but we must also focus on their hearts.  We tell our students that they have a whole community that loves them and supports them, but they can be skeptical. But today that community was real.” She went on to address the impact the volunteers had on each and every student, and how the impact of a moment can reverberate throughout a community.  As Zareta eloquently stated, “The impact doesn’t end with our students. This gift of time and energy will impact the morale of our teachers, our administrators, and the broader school community.”

So this Thanksgiving, the CFK team and I are thankful for the 300 coats our students received this week, and the additional thousand coats in the coming weeks.  We are thankful for our partners like Operation Warm, who also aspire to ensure our students’ needs, basic and emotional, are met. We are thankful for our corporate partners, such as Nordstrom’s who underwrote the cost of the coats and supplied the volunteers to make our students feel special.  We are thankful for our individual donors whose funds allow us to provide other critical resources to our schools. We are thankful for our volunteers who work with us, side-by-side, to make our schools more beautiful, to keep our students safe while our parents attend classes, to teach our students how to write resumes, about financial literacy, how to tie a tie.  We are thankful for you. For without you, we wouldn’t be a powerful community that can help our city’s underserved schools thrive.

#WhyCFK, CFK Events

Why I Run: Natalie Auerbach’s Marathon Story

I began running in my teens. I ran because it got me out of the house where emotions often ran high, it gave me time to be by myself, and it was a time to release whatever teenage anguish I was harboring. For these reasons, I ran for hours at a time. And running became a part of me and my identity. When I got injured training for the marathon 12 years ago, I knew in my mind that one day I would train for and complete a marathon. But, after two children and a car accident – I had considered that dream dead. Until a friend asked me (she claims I asked her, but I wouldn’t have had the courage) to run the marathon with her to support Change for Kids. And because CFK is so near and dear to my heart, I said yes.

Almost five months ago, I started out by running a mile. One mile. I swore as I ran that mile. Not in the good way – swearing that I would run daily or better myself in some way. In the bad way, the way that includes words with four letters that I don’t like to say around my children.

So, if I started out swearing, why did I keep going? The reason was twofold. The first is that I believe so completely in the mission of Change for Kids. I have spent the past six months in the office working to raise funds to supply our partner schools with the critical resources they need to get their students ready for success in middle school and beyond. I believe so completely that I decided to not just talk my mouth off, but to also put my physical and emotional willpower on the line for Change for Kids.

The second reason is one that many of us have experienced. Nothing motivates more than fear. Fear can be crippling, and in so many instances it is so hard to overcome. For me, in terms of training for and running a marathon, fighting fear is liberating. It is an obstacle to overcome. And for me, it is empowering to overcome an obstacle to meet a goal. But the true motivation comes from knowing that our students have many obstacles to overcome, and their odds of overcoming these obstacles can only be strengthened by a solid education. And that’s where I can help. I can help raise funds to help CFK provide even more resources to our students and our schools. As I’m running, when the miles start to add up and the legs start to get tired, I will focus on the ultimate goal, the reason I am running, and the goal will energize me to the end. NatalieHeadshot.jpg


Why Am I running the NYC marathon for CFK – Yago Cuesta

Yago Cuesta


Running makes me a happier, better person. It gives me joy, focus, purpose, and a profound feeling of fulfillment.

Running the NYC Marathon as a fundraiser for Change for Kids gives me all of that and much more — the opportunity to give back to people by doing one of the things I like the most.

Change for Kids invests in elementary schools in NYC to help under-privileged children to succeed in middle school and beyond. In other words, it empowers them to learn; it encourages them to bring their skills up to their full potential and to push limits aside. This sounds very familiar to a runner.

Like running, learning is an endless adventure, where every single step forward counts and is worth celebrating. Everyone is invited and no one excluded. For no person is so gifted that she does not need to learn more, nor so hopeless that she cannot learn something new. And we should be equally amazed by both accomplishments, as we should by every single step that we take on the way.

There is no more powerful leverage for long-lasting change than education. Like a marathon, it’s a long-distance race that can lead you very far away. And Change for Kids makes both possible.

Let’s then keep running to learn more; let’s keep learning as we run.


CFK Volunteers make a difference every day

Thanks to our 1,400+ volunteers who delivered over 4,500 volunteer hours last year, Change for Kids made a positive impact on thousands of NYC public elementary school children in underserved neighborhoods. See how volunteers from VSA Partners recently transformed P.S. 329.

Blog Image ps329

There are so many ways to get involved with Change for Kids. Here are upcoming ways that you can get involved!

School & Career Days Volunteer at a CFK School event in May and inspire our students to dream big about their futures.

Golf for Kids Join us on June 26th at the historic Saint Andrew’s course in Hastings-on-Hudson to benefit our 12 partner schools.

TCS NYC Marathon Every mile you run for Change for Kids will help bring programs and resources to over 4,700 CFK public elementary students.

#WhyCFK, CFK Sponsors

Andy’s #WhyCFK Story

Change for Kids is recruiting for our 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Team, and we want youMeet Andy Hoffman, a 2017 CFK Marathon Runner.  We asked Andy about his marathon experience and why he ran for Change for Kids.

Andy Hoffman

Why did you choose to run for Change for Kids?
I was introduced to Team CFK through my company, The Carlyle Group, who is a partner of Change for Kids.  I wanted to run the NYC Marathon for a charity that I really believed in, and for me, nothing is more important than access to a strong educational system beginning at a very young age.  The work that Change for Kids is doing at the elementary school level is setting the stage for children to succeed as they move up through middle school, high school, and beyond.

What was it like running the largest marathon in the world?
I’ve run a handful of other marathons before, but this was my first NYC experience, and I can honestly say it’s just totally different.  The entire day is really a unique and amazing experience.  In addition to the excitement, it’s also a very satisfying and proud feeling to complete the race.  And doing it while helping kids made it even more satisfying.

Any advice for this year’s runners?
If you’re training for a marathon, set a training plan that works for your lifestyle.  Create a schedule that you’re going to be able to stick to, and that you can consistently balance with other personal and work commitments in your life.  You want to go into a marathon prepared, so you need to get the miles in.  But you also want the process to be fun, not a burden.  So balancing all of that is key.

Learn more about running the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon on November 4th here.

#WhyCFK, Uncategorized

Why Reading Matters By The End Of Third Grade

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical marker in a child’s educational development. Until third grade, children learn to read, but after third grade they read to learn. Children who enter fourth grade without reading proficiency are more likely to dropout of high school, reducing their earnings potential and chances for success.* This risk is greatest for students in low-income communities where schools often cannot provide the resources needed to prepare their students for success.

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.

That’s why CFK aims to make an impact in reading proficiency early in a child’s educational career. Change for Kids provides programs, tutoring and other resources to aid in building competent readers.

Through our programs Guest Reader and Reading Buddies, children have the opportunity to hear a story from our volunteers and corporate partners. These activities are special, engage students in literacy, and often leave the children asking when they will see their guest reader again!


*Annie E Casey Foundation