Tag Archives: help children

The Realities of Urban Poverty

In our experience, we at Children Incorporated have seen that urban poverty entails many of the same challenges that rural poverty does, including transportation barriers and shortages of affordable housing. There are some difficulties which are specific to families living in urban environments, however – problems that we are currently addressing in the following cities: Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; Detroit, Michigan; and New Orleans, Louisiana. These challenges include concentrated poverty and crime, inadequate public transportation, and de facto segregation.

Understanding concentrated poverty

Concentrated poverty, such as the circumstance of public housing projects, has been found to only worsen the situations of low-income families. Residents in such communities face underfunded schools, higher crime rates, substandard housing, and poorer health outcomes. The effects are particularly hard on children, who attempt to cope with the high levels of stress that they experience as a result of their families’ economic situation. According to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, two-thirds of children living in poverty reside in cities.

Crime is a problem that has a greater impact on families who live in concentrated poverty, as crime is more frequent in cities than in the suburbs or in rural areas. A lack of quality affordable housing is also a serious problem. For families who are not accepted into subsidized housing, rent consumes a large percentage of their limited resources, which leaves little for their children’s needs. Transportation challenges have become critical, as every major metropolitan area has lost jobs to the suburbs. These difficulties hinder parents and guardians’ abilities to connect with opportunities and jobs.

How we help children living in poverty

Children Incorporated understands that these problems are complex and interconnected. Our efforts to have a positive impact on urban poverty are currently focused in two areas – our sponsorship program and our Hope In Action Fund. Our sponsorship program assists children with their basic, health-related, and educational needs. This assistance provides them with weather-appropriate school clothing, classroom supplies, hygiene items, and other necessities, as determined by our volunteer coordinators at each of our affiliated schools in our Inner City Division across the United States. We often hear that when sponsored children know they have a sponsor who cares about them, they are encouraged – and that is powerful.

We often hear that when sponsored children know they have a sponsor who cares about them, they are encouraged – and that is powerful.

Our Hope In Action Fund assists with larger-scale needs that fall beyond the scope of our sponsorship program. This fund facilitates three areas of focus in our Inner City Division in particular:

1. Food insecurity – Many poor urban communities are “food deserts,” lacking full-service grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead, there are only corner convenience shops and mini-marts with more junk food than nutritious food. For families that lack transportation, healthy sustenance is difficult to obtain. Noting this need, several schools have begun to host monthly markets, have initiated weekend feeding programs, or have spearheaded school gardening programs. Children Incorporated has supported these efforts.

2. After-school remediation and enrichment – Children Incorporated has supported after-school programs that offer remedial instruction in reading and math, as well as enrichment activities in the arts and sciences.

3. Parent and guardian engagement and involvement – Many schools struggle with parent and guardian attendance for conferences with teachers, assemblies, Parent-Teacher Association meetings, and other activities. Many parents may have had negative experiences with schools during their own childhoods, and others have complained that the only time they hear from the schools is if there is a problem with their children’s attendance, behavior, or grades. Studies have shown parent and guardian engagement to be a key factor in positive outcomes for children. Several of the schools with which we affiliate have designed special nights to encourage parents and guardians to go to schools for wholesome events that encourage family bonding. Children Incorporated has helped with several of these important efforts.

There are many challenges to address, but we at Children Incorporated are doing our best to tackle them, thanks to the support of our sponsors and donors, who are making a profound difference in the lives of the children we serve.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN CHILDREN INCORPORATED’S INNER CITY DIVISON?

You can sponsor a child in our Inner City Division in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Facts About Child Hunger and Poverty

Hunger is a problem that most often affects low-income families, because living in poverty means that people are often going without basic needs such as food, clothing, and adequate shelter.

In order for a child to have a chance at a bright future, they need to eat healthy meals every day. When they’re hungry, children are more likely to be hospitalized, and they face a higher risk of health conditions because they have weakened immune systems. A brain starved of vital nutrients is one that can’t concentrate, setting hungry kids up for failure in school.

Without enough food or proper nutrition, kids face a variety of setbacks that can derail their path out of poverty.

Even if they are consuming an adequate volume of food, children may not be receiving enough of the vitamins and minerals they need to grow up healthy, and are therefore malnourished. Without enough food or proper nutrition, kids face a variety of setbacks that can derail their path out of poverty.

Global child hunger facts

– Every year, 3.1 million children (8,500 children per day) die due to poor nutrition
– Today, there are 815 million people in the world who do not have enough to eat

– Approximately 28% of all children in developing countries are considered to be underweight, or have had their growth stunted as a result of malnutrition

– Worldwide, malnutrition contributes to almost half of the deaths of kids under the age of 5, claiming the lives of over 3 million children per year

 National child hunger facts

 – In America, 1 in 6 children don’t know where they will get their next meal from

– Nearly 13 million kids in the U.S. face hunger

– 5 out of 6 kids who rely on free or reduced-price school means aren’t getting free meals in the summer

– For every 100 school lunch programs, there are only 87 breakfast sites, and just 36 summer food programs 

What Children Incorporated does to alleviate hunger for children

 Children Incorporated provides basic necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, and educational support to children living in poverty in the United States and abroad through our child sponsorship program. These essentials are vital to a child’s growth and success in school. We also assist feeding programs in the United States and internationally that ensure that children are receiving meals during the week, and that they are provided with food to take home on the weekends. Additionally, we make contributions toward school gardens so that children living in poverty have the opportunity to obtain fresh, nutritious food, which they would likely otherwise go without.

How you can help

You can help a child who faces hunger in a few different ways. One way is by sponsoring a child with us. For $30 a month, you provide basic needs, including food, for a child in need, while also making an investment in their future.

You can also help children in need by donating to either our U.S. Feeding Program Fund or our International Feeding Program Fund. Donations supporting our U.S. Feeding Program Fund support such endeavors such as our Backpack Feeding Program, which gives children in Eastern Kentucky food to take home on the weekends and in the summer when school is out. The purpose of our International Feeding Program Fund is to feed enrolled children who would otherwise go hungry, so that they can be alert at school and ready to learn. This fund supports programs in the Philippines, Kenya, and Ethiopia to buy grains, meats, vegetables, and cooking supplies to feed children.

References:

http://www.thp.org/knowledge-center/know-your-world-facts-about-hunger-poverty/

http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/child-hunger-facts.html

https://www.wfp.org/node/646670

http://www1.wfp.org/zero-hunger

https://www.nokidhungry.org/who-we-are/hunger-facts

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-hunger-us

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD with Children Incorporated?

 You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

Learning Outside the Classroom

We know very well here at Children Incorporated that all kids are not the same. It is one of the primary reasons for which we encourage our volunteer coordinators at each of our affiliated projects to decide what each individual sponsored child’s needs are, because we know that they vary based on differing circumstances. In one instance, for example, one of our volunteer coordinators found that the particular need of a special girl in New Orleans was educational games and activities to help her learn outside of a regular classroom setting.

Lori* lives with her father, who is a caring, involved single parent that attends all school events, according to our volunteer coordinator at Lori’s school, Brittany. Lori’s father is unemployed, and he is scarcely able to provide shelter for himself and his daughter, let alone anything else she might require, like clothes and shoes. Thanks to her sponsor, however, when Lori began the school year, she received new shirts and pants for her school uniform. Her father was so grateful for the help that Lori’s sponsorship provided.

Thanks to her sponsor, however, when Lori began the school year, she received new shirts and pants for her school uniform. Her father was so grateful for the help that Lori’s sponsorship provided.

Hours of fun

Beyond needing assistance with basic items, Brittany also found that Lori could use special help with her reading and writing. She was able to use some sponsorship funds to purchase a LeapPad tablet with educational games for Lori – and upon receiving it, Lori played and practiced diligently, and her grades began to improve across the board. Seeing Lori’s progress, Brittany then provided her with a three-month subscription for Surprise Ride boxes, which contain themed, hands-on learning activities, thanks to support from our Hope In Action Fund. These boxes provided Lori with hours of fun and educational activities, many of which she could do with her father at home after school!

When Brittany asked Lori what her favorite activity in the boxes was, Lori replied by saying, “My hands-down favorite was the penguin box, because I got to learn about Antarctica and to make snow!” We love hearing about how exciting it was for Lori to be learning, and that is not even the best part – since she received the educational activities and games, Lori’s grades have improved even more, and she exhibits greater confidence and pride while in class.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN NEW ORLEANS?

You can sponsor a child in New Orleans in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Praise from Our Coordinators

Without a doubt, our volunteer coordinators are the backbone of our organization. Without help from these special teachers, guidance counselors, and resource center coordinators at our affiliated schools, we couldn’t reach thousands of children living in poverty every year, helping them to receive the basic needs they require in order to focus on getting an education.

We have found that our volunteer coordinators are just as grateful for our programs as we are for their service to the children we help to support. Over the years, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, has received many letters from our coordinators expressing just how important Children Incorporated is to them, to the schools, and most especially to children and their families.

“We would like to thank the sponsors for their support. All children want to know they’re cared about, and I can tell you that you have provided these children with lots of smiles.”

Removing barriers

“Children Incorporated remains a crucial part of our center’s mission of removing non-cognitive barriers to our students’ education. One of the highlights of working with your organization is that volunteer coordinators are given the liberty of using the Children Incorporated funds to best meet the needs of the individual children and their families. This past school year, one of my greatest blessings was to give food assistance to my families. Our winter was one of the coldest, snowiest winters that we have had in many years. School was dismissed for multiple days at a time, meaning our students were not receiving the free breakfast and lunch meals that families had counted on as they prepared their monthly budgets. Many told me that they simply ran out of funds budgeted for food because of the repeated school cancellations. Children Incorporated allowed the center to purchase food for our families. I had never had the opportunity to work with families that were more grateful in my many years as coordinator. I, too, am incredibly grateful.”

– Vanessa, Kentucky

Mrs. Wood’s vision


“From my experience over the last thirteen years with Children Incorporated, I have learned that the monetary help with clothing and immediate needs is really secondary to the emotional support that these children get from corresponding with their sponsors. They finally feel like someone cares and they are not alone in this world. The most gratifying thing that I have seen from the children being helped by this program is that a large number of them say that when they grow up and get a job, they want to sponsor a child themselves. We have actually had a few parents of children that were in the Children Incorporated program have their circumstances greatly improve, and so requested to have their children removed from the program so that needier children could benefit. Then, to our amazement, they proceeded to ask how they could become sponsors themselves. That in and of itself shows me the worth of this program, and what is being achieved is exactly what Mrs. Wood envisioned at its inception.

“Thank you, Children Incorporated and all of our sponsors, for the unbelievable difference you make in the lives of our children.”

– Alisa, Kentucky

Bringing smiles to kids’ faces

“Children Incorporated is truly a blessing to my community. It has brought so many smiles to the children’s faces. There are so many kids that benefit from this organization. Without the help from Children Incorporated programs, so many of our kids would do without.

“I am truly amazed with all the things that the sponsors from Children Incorporated do. To see these kids get a package from a ‘stranger’ that loves them is beyond them. It is breathtaking to see what just a note or card can do. I will never forget when one of my new students got a care package from their new sponsor. This girl was very hesitant to open the box. I explained to her that it was a gift from her sponsor and told her they wanted her to have what was inside. This girl, with a tear in her eye, said, ‘Why would anyone buy me something?’ My heart broke. I wanted to break down and cry. As she opened the box, she looked inside it with the biggest eyes. It was filled with clothes, art supplies, toys and snacks. She leaned over into the box and grabbed a box of snacks and said, ‘Wow! I finally got a snack for school. I can’t wait to show my daddy. He will be so excited.’

“As she went through her box of goodies, she showed me each piece and kept smiling and hopping around with excitement the entire time. She had to lay all her clothes out and look them over. She rubbed a soft footie to her face, and I truly cherished every moment she pulled something new out of her box.

“So many children are impacted in such positive ways by the sponsors in their lives. I cannot overstate the tremendous impact of Children Incorporated on our work, and most importantly on our students.”

“Putting a smile on a child’s face is a miracle in itself. A helping hand makes more of a difference than anyone can ever imagine. This program means the difference between a child being able to have their basic needs met for school and that same child doing without. We would like to say thank you for everything that you do for our kids. With your help, our kids can have a brighter future.”

– Alice, Kentucky

True heroes

“I truly believe Children Incorporated has made an impact on my students’ lives. I have seen their smiles, felt their hugs and their appreciation for gifts and letters of encouragement from their sponsors.”

– Deborah, Kentucky

“As I’ve said for years, the sponsors are the true heroes of the Children Incorporated program. It is amazing to think that strangers care enough about a child – a child they have never, and most likely will never, meet – to send help. I hope sponsors realize that the friendships and bonds that they create with these children are just as valuable as their monetary donations. Children Incorporated and its sponsors are changing the world one child at a time.”

– Stacy, West Virginia

“We would like to thank the sponsors for their support. All children want to know they’re cared about, and I can tell you that you have provided these children with lots of smiles. The Children Incorporated program has given our students a huge sense of pride as well as the knowledge that someone cares. Parents come in and say, ‘I appreciate the sponsorship so much.’… I’m surprised at how much people are willing to give, especially to children they’ve never seen in person. My words of thanks fall way short of conveying how important sponsors are in these kids’ lives.”

– Wally, North Carolina

A tremendous impact

“Thanks to the remarkable network of sponsors, we were able to provide required school uniforms, socks, underclothes, and winter coats, hats and gloves. We also provided a countless number of school supplies, personal care items, emergency food and more. In addition, through the Hope In Action Fund, with which Children Incorporated provides additional help in education and health matters, we were able to do three very different and significant things:

“At Lucy Ellen Moten Elementary School, where the neighborhood streets are not deemed safe enough for trick-or-treating, the coordinator was able to provide an in-school Halloween celebration, featuring a visit from a clown, and a pumpkin for every student. At Charles Hart Middle School, a family lost their medical coverage during a government shutdown, and one child could not receive her life-saving kidney medication. Children Incorporated stepped in and made it possible, and after several sleepless nights from worry, her mother wept with relief, knowing Callie* would be alright.

“At Cardozo Education Campus, a bright student could not read the board, and her grades were suffering. Her mother was struggling to make sense of the system that would allow her to get eyeglasses. The coordinator worked with the teacher and nurse to clarify the extent of the vision impairment, and through Children Incorporated, the coordinator was able to get Maxine* a proper eye exam and a pair of glasses.

“So many children are impacted in such positive ways by the sponsors in their lives. I cannot overstate the tremendous impact of Children Incorporated on our work, and most importantly on our students. Thank you so much, to the amazing sponsors and donors who make this possible!”

– Jennifer, Washington, D.C.

*Names changed for children’s protection.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD WITH CHILDREN INCORPORATED?

You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

Seal of Approval

Ratings of charitable organizations exist to provide the general public with knowledge about the finances of particular charities, including identifying their incomes, business expenses, and the amount of money it takes for them to acquire donations.

Information from charity rating organizations also tells donors how much of their donations will be used to support charitable causes, and what portion of them will be dedicated to the charities’ operating expenses. Additionally, it lets donors know how financially stable and self-sustainable charities are. In the case of charities that do not appear to be self-sustainable, because donations may not actually reach their intended recipients, donors’ money might be better spent with other organizations.

How are charities rated?

Most often, charities are rated by evaluating their financial health, accountability, and transparency. This way, donors can see how efficiently charities will use their support, how well they have sustained their programs and services over time, and their level of commitment to accountability and transparency.

Information from charity rating organizations also tells donors how much of their donations will be used to support charitable causes, and what portion of them will be dedicated to the charities’ operating expenses.

The financial health of organizations is based on the financial information they provide in their informational tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Forms 990. Accountability and transparency are also determined from the same forms, as well as from information that organizations present on their websites involving best practices of governance and ethics, and whether or not charities make it easy for donors to find critical information about them, such as their bylaws.

Top rating agencies and their methodologies

There are a few very reputable charity watchdog agencies: Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and GuideStar are at the top. Though each of these agencies uses a different methodology for rating charities, they all utilize charities’ financial documents, particularly their Forms 990, as their primary sources of information.

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is an independent American charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States. Its stated goal is “to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome the nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges”. Children Incorporated has a four-star charity rating with Charity Navigator – the highest rating that an organization can obtain.

Charity Watch

Charity Watch exposes nonprofit abuses and advocates for the interests of donors. Their ratings include the percentages of charities’ budgets that are spent on program services, how much it costs charities to raise $100, an accountability measure, and the salaries of the charities’ highest-paid employees. Children Incorporated is a top-rated charity with Charity Watch, with an “A” grade.

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance implements a rating system in which 501(c)(3) organizations are required to meet a minimum of twenty standards before receiving a “BBB Accredited Charity” designation. The Alliance’s standards include spending at least 65 percent of total expenses on program activities, no more than 35 percent of donations on fundraising activities, and having no more than three years of financial resources in reserve. Children Incorporated is a BBB Wise Giving Alliance recipient.

GuideStar

Children Incorporated believes in full transparency of our financial management.

GuideStar specializes in reporting on nonprofit organizations in the United States. In 2016, its database provided information about 2.5 million charities. GuideStar was one of the first central sources of information about nonprofits in the United States, and it is the world’s largest source of information about nonprofit organizations. GuideStar serves to verify that organizations are established, and that donated funds are spent where donors intend them to be – for individuals hoping to give in the wake of disasters. Children Incorporated is a Gold Participant with GuideStar – the highest rating that a charity can receive.

Children Incorporated believes in full transparency of our financial management. This protects the trust that you place in us as stewards of your generosity. For more information about our financial status, accountability, and transparency, visit the “Financials & Reports” section of our website to find our most recent Forms 990 and financial reports, as well as other administrative documents.

***

How do I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

“Good Nights Are Good Days”

At Children Incorporated, we think a lot about the basic needs that children living in poverty are going without. Providing kids with items like food, shoes, school supplies, toiletries, and clothing are at the forefront of our mission as a child sponsorship organization. Sometimes, however, when we think about ensuring that children have appropriate clothes to wear, we don’t think about how important pajamas are for kids while growing up.

“Every child has the right to a good night. Yet, thousands of children across the United States will go to sleep tonight and their bedtime will be missing something.”

Introducing the Pajama Program

The Pajama Program was founded in 2001 by Genevieve Pitturro, who discovered while volunteering to read to children at a shelter that the kids there were going to bed wearing the same clothes that they had been wearing all day, and that they didn’t have comfortable pajamas to change into. This discovery prompted Genevieve to return to the shelter with bags of new pajamas and storybooks to share with the children so that she could help ensure that they would enjoy a good night with a caring adult to tuck them in. After that, Genevieve decided to expand her project to reach children all over the United States, because she strongly believes that loving bedtimes lead to good days for children.

According to the Pajama Program website, “Every child has the right to a good night. Yet, thousands of children across the United States will go to sleep tonight and their bedtime will be missing something. They may be feeling alone and afraid, in a bed that isn’t theirs, in a shelter that isn’t a home or with families who wish they could give them more. Nightly bedtime rituals like fresh pajamas and a storybook offer a consistent, reassuring ‘comfort zone’ at the end of each day.”

Offering comfort to our kids 

Children Incorporated is honored to be a distribution partner for the Pajama Program, because their mission and goal to help children obtain basic needs align perfectly with ours. What’s more, because we are a pajama distributor, we are able to work with amazing community members who want help children as well!

This past year, during the holiday season, the Richmond, Virginia Chapter of the Women’s Association of Verizon Employees (WAVE) held a pajama and book drive in conjunction with the Pajama Program; and as a result of their generous efforts, we were able to provide new pajamas to both sponsored and unsponsored children enrolled in our program in Richmond, Virginia. We are so grateful for all those involved in helping provide kids with pajamas so that they can have a good, comfortable night’s sleep – every night.

***

HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN RICHMOND, VIRGINIA?

You can sponsor a child in Richmond in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.