#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

CFK Sponsors

CFK Supporters Come Together Citywide to Make Holidays Bright for Students

A whoopie cushion, light saber and pogo stick were just some of the items students at our partner schools had at the top of their wishlists this year.

While the holidays are a time to celebrate, they can also be an extra stressor for families across NYC. Every holiday season, Change for Kids hosts collection drives for our partner schools to ensure students have an extra reason to smile at the end of December.

Thanks to generous individuals and corporate partners, 2702 toys and winter essentials were delivered to students in December. Santa and his elves even made an appearance to deliver gifts, while other corporate partners personally handed the gifts to individual students.

Many thanks to the following supporters for making the holiday season so special for our students!

  • Apex Systems
  • Apollo Global Management
  • Blackstone
  • Davis & Gilbert
  • First Republic National Bank
  • Helm US
  • Jessica Scott + friends
  • Labaton Sucharow
  • Moda Operandi
  • Q5 Partners
  • Salesforce
  • Slack
  • Union Square Ventures
  • Yale Club
#WhyCFK, CFK Volunteers, Grant Avenue Elementary School

A Principal’s Vision Becomes a Reality at Grant Avenue

Teachers at Grant Avenue are kicking off this semester with a brand new space to collaborate and recharge. A year ago, Principal Kristin Erat shared a vision with CFK: What if we could turn a storage room into a teacher collaboration space?  CFK saw an opportunity to establish a relationship between the school, Gensler Design and Hillmann Consulting LLC to donate their time and design and construct the space. Recently, Grant Avenue hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the room, which is featured in the Bronx Times. Now, teachers can use this space to continue to inspire students and each other. Many thanks to Gensler Design and Hillmann Consulting LLC for making Principal Erat’s dream come true!

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#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

#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.