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Children Incorporated Fall 2019 Newsletter

In 1964, the average cost of a new home in the United States was $13,050. Postage stamps were 5 cents each, and a gallon of gasoline cost just 25 cents more than that. In the same year, a young woman named Jeanne Clarke Wood started Children Incorporated out of her home in Richmond, Virginia to improve the lives of children who often went hungry and without having their most basic needs met.

Fifty-five years later, the work of Children Incorporated is still changing lives.

Reports from those early days indicate that funds provided by Children Incorporated were life-changing. Hungry children were fed. Children who had been wearing threadbare clothes and shoes with holes in the soles were outfitted with sturdy clothing. Young people, who had gone without paper, pencils and necessary schoolbooks were provided with them.

Fifty-five years later, the work of Children Incorporated is still changing lives.

Thanks to our donors and sponsors, we have changed the lives of approximately 300,000 children and their families in the last six decades. Today, our dedication to improving lives and providing education, hope and opportunity is as strong — if not stronger — than ever.

Thanks to You, Children in Puerto Rico Have New Playground Equipment

Thanks to the generosity of our wonderful donors, Children Incorporated recently purchased and installed brand new playground equipment at the Iglesia Bautista de Metropolis in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This playground offers a safe place for children in the surrounding community to play under the supervision of caring adults — something they have not had in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Brand New Textbooks for Students in Kenya

In Kenya, children are often required to purchase their own textbooks — an expense that is a significant burden for their families. Thanks to donations  from our donors, we were able to send additional support to the Dandora Center in Nairobi — our affiliated project — for the purchase of schoolbooks. With this help, students at the school recently received books at no cost!

In Guatemala, a New Skills Training Program Teaches Dressmaking

We recently received photos from our volunteer coordinator at the Juan Apostol School in Guatemala City, Guatemala, of students learning how to sew thanks to the newly implemented Dressmaking Program. Students learn sewing skills that they can apply to their personal lives or use in the future to generate income.

This is the fifth training program implemented at the Juan Apostol School, thanks to our donors and sponsors. Other programs include Cosmetology, Food Preparation, Computer Repair and Maintenance, Graphic Design and Music.

Back to School season is one of the toughest times for children in need. Not having new outfits or school supplies to start the school year off right can diminish their confidence and make it difficult for them to focus.

Thankfully, children in our program — like those in Letcher County, Kentucky — receive bookbags and other school supplies, so they have the tools they need to feel good about themselves and to start the school year ready to learn!

Letter from our Volunteer Coordinators 

“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 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

Four-Star Rating with Charity Navigator for the Fourth Year in a Row

We are proud to announce Children Incorporated has earned our fourth consecutive 4-star rating with Charity Navigator!

Charity Navigator is an independent American charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States. The four-star rating is the highest possible rating that an organization can receive from Charity Navigator, and it shows that Children Incorporated adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way.

Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Children Incorporated exceeds industry standards and demonstrates our trustworthiness to the public. We believe in full transparency of our financial management and are grateful to be recognized for our dedication as stewards of your generosity.

Sincerely yours,

Ronald H. Carter President and CEO

Congratulations to our Higher Education Fund Recipient, Sarah!

We want to give huge congratulations to Sarah, one of our amazing sponsored children and Higher Education Program participants. Sarah recently graduated from college with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.

Sarah writes:

“Children Incorporated has been a part of my life since I was in kindergarten. They have helped my family and me through difficult times. I have received many packages and letters that have supplied me with new clothes and great memories. Also, I received help to get me through college when I did not know if I would be able to go or not. If it were not for Children Incorporated or the sponsors that fund this great organization, I would not have had the same childhood or college experience. I want to express my gratitude and say thank you to everyone who has helped me.”

We are very proud of you, Sarah!

*Name changed to protect the child.

Our Partner International Student Exchange Releases an Update on Their ISE Gives Back Charity Initiative

International Student Exchange (ISE) is pleased to announce the release of their most recent ISE Gives Back charity initiative update. This initiative was designed to provide support to organizations that assist underprivileged children around the world. The most recent ISE update covers their ongoing partnership with Children Incorporated, which has helped children in need across the United States, specifically, for the last two years; and it details some of the programs funded through their $100,000 donation.

“It’s truly remarkable what we’ve been able to accomplish together in these last two years, and we look forward to continuing this impactful work.”

– Amanda Corey of ISE

“Being able to launch this initiative and see how it has positively impacted so many people is an absolute honor,” said Amanda Corey of ISE. “We have heard so many wonderful stories, like from Alyssa*, a young girl from Kentucky who received treatment at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston after she sustained severe burns during a house fire. It’s news like this of kids receiving the help they need that keeps us moving toward our mission to bring people together for the greater good of the world.”

In addition to helping this family, ISE’s partnership with Children Incorporated has also had a far-reaching impact. In Washington, D.C., the donation provided funds for a weekend Backpack Feeding Program for children who would otherwise not have food to eat on the weekends; as well as helped to fund a Joyful Food Market – a market where families with limited access to grocery stores can obtain fresh vegetables, fruit, proteins, and more once a month.

Thanks to ISE, children all over the United States are receiving much-needed support.

In Richmond, Virginia, the ISE-Children Incorporated partnership resulted in the purchase of Legos and Lego Base Plates for the Broad Rock Elementary School library. They will be used for the school’s math program, which promotes coding and logistical and higher-level thinking.

To the south, in North Carolina, funds from the $100,000 donation helped to sustain the Junior Appalachian Musicians program, where children stay after school to learn about traditional Appalachian instruments and culture. Across the country, in Arizona, the donation provided funding for the construction of a reading pergola and native canyon grape vines at Pinon Community School in the Navajo Nation, as well as supplies for students to turn grapes into jam for consumption at school and at home with their families.

Amanda went on to say, “As if that weren’t amazing enough, ISE and Children Incorporated are currently sponsoring 119 children through this partnership, including 58 older boys and girls, for whom it is most difficult to find sponsors. It’s truly remarkable what we’ve been able to accomplish together in these last two years, and we look forward to continuing this impactful work.”

Visit iseusa.org to learn more about the ISE-Children Incorporated partnership, and to discover what it’s like to become a host family or area representative.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

About International Student Exchange

International Student Exchange sponsors secondary school exchange for international students, as well as provides cultural exchange programs for American high school students interested in opportunities for living and studying abroad. Founded in 1982, this certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has provided quality foreign exchange programs for over 30,000 students.

ISE’s goal is for student exchange to bring people of the world closer together, and for the relationships created between exchange students, host families, and local communities to promote peaceful, cooperative international relations. Those interested in helping and getting involved may host an exchange student, or join a team of incredible area representatives.

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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 who is available for sponsorship.

Communities In Schools – in the Schools of Our Nation’s Capital

As an organization that relies heavily on our partners to be able to serve children in need all over the world, we are very fortunate to work with Communities In Schools (CIS) in the United States – especially when it comes to helping children in our nation’s capital. Working directly in 2,300 schools in 25 states and in Washington, D.C., as a national school dropout prevention organization, CIS builds relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life.

The goals of CIS

“By helping our most vulnerable students stay in school and succeed in life, we are building stronger, healthier and more economically stable communities where every person is capable of reaching his or her greatest potential.”

One of Communities In Schools’ goals is to help children achieve in school, graduate, and move on to brighter futures. The organization does this by actively surrounding public school students with a support system of community members and resources in the public schools themselves. CIS believes that these relationships, and giving children the access they need to services that will help them overcome barriers in their education, change children for the better and help them to succeed.

According to the CIS website, “Across the country, approximately 1 in 5 children under 18 lives in poverty. These are disproportionately children of color who already struggle with issues of access and equity. Without community support, they are more at risk for missing school, dropping out and failing to earn a high school diploma. By helping our most vulnerable students stay in school and succeed in life, we are building stronger, healthier and more economically stable communities where every person is capable of reaching his or her greatest potential.”

CIS’ school-based staff members partner with teachers to identify the challenges students face in class and at home, and they coordinate with community partners to bring outside resources into schools. From immediate needs like food and clothing, to more complex ones like counseling and emotional support, CIS offers a wide range of assistance to children, and their mission aligns closely with our own here at Children Incorporated.

A perfect match

All four of our affiliated schools in Washington, D.C. work under the auspices of Communities In Schools – and we couldn’t be happier with this special partnership. The work of Children Incorporated and CIS dovetail beautifully. We are able to provide children with resources, thanks to our sponsorship program and our dedicated sponsors and donors; and CIS’ site coordinators serve as our volunteer coordinators at each of the schools with which we affiliate. Our sponsors can be counted among these caring adults, and the other mentors that CIS introduces to schools are vital to our sponsored and unsponsored children’s growth – and to that of all children living in poverty in Washington, D.C. – in a variety of ways.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN WASHINGTON, D.C.?

You can sponsor a child in Washington, D.C. 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.

The History of Our U.S. Programs

We are very proud of our U.S. Programs, which support children not only in rural areas of the United States, but in urban areas as well. Just as all organizations do, we started out small, with only a few affiliated projects; and we gradually added more over time.

When Children Incorporated began in 1964, our focus was on one country in particular: Guatemala. Soon, we started to offer assistance in the United States, too. By the late 1960s, our U.S. Programs Division consisted of one site in Menifee, Kentucky, one site in Rutledge, Tennessee, and a few sites near Farmington, New Mexico. Just twenty years later, we encompassed two divisions in four states: an Appalachian Division in North Carolina; and a Native American Division in Arizona, New Mexico, and North Dakota. The organization lost its connections with sites in Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Dakota after a while. By the late 1980s, we had expanded to 32 projects total in North Carolina, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Growing fast

During the mid to late 1990s, our U.S. Programs Division experienced its greatest growth period. Appalachian affiliations were initiated in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. The organization began to focus on the state of Kentucky again, and we developed a partnership with Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSC). By partnering with these centers, Children Incorporated was able to expand our program throughout many counties in Eastern Kentucky. Our Native American Division simultaneously began making affiliations in South Dakota and Utah.

Today, we affiliate with 147 projects in New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. to help thousands of children in the United States every day.

Addressing urban and rural poverty

By the early 2000s, the need for our program in urban areas became apparent; so Children Incorporated decided to tackle the issue head-on. After focusing on rural poverty during much of our history, we felt the need to address and respond to urban poverty. By partnering with Communities In Schools (CIS), a school dropout prevention program that works in public school systems in the United States, we were able to expand our outreach even further, and assist children in Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Richmond, Virginia; and New Orleans.

Today, we affiliate with 147 projects in New Mexico, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and in Washington, D.C. to help thousands of children in the United States every day, by providing them with basic needs so they can attend school, obtain an education, and have the opportunities they deserve and need to succeed in life.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN THE UNITED STATES?

You can sponsor a child in the United States 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 in the United States who is available for sponsorship.

Making Memories with Back to School Shopping

According to the National Retail Federation, last year’s back to school shopping reached $27 million. It is the second largest shopping season for retailers, after the winter holidays. In fact, the beginning of a new school year is a little like Christmas; the children are excited, and everything is shiny and new. But just like during the holiday season, many families wince at the economic pinch they feel as fall approaches, having to stock up on school supplies for their children at the close of summer break.

Receiving new school supplies at the beginning of the school year helps sponsored children feel ready to learn!

The Pride of Having New Shoes

Most of us have fond memories of back to school shopping – the happiness of opening a new box of crayons, with their bright colors, waxy smell, and perfect pointy tips; the fun of choosing spiral-bound notebooks with your favorite movie or television characters; the pride of having new shoes. However, for impoverished parents and guardians, these are memories they can’t afford to make with their children.

Over the years, as I have traveled to our affiliated schools in the United States and talked with our dedicated volunteer coordinators, I have often heard that back to school time is difficult, and often very stressful for the families in the communities we serve.

Our Back to School Fund helps kids, especially those still waiting hopefully for sponsors of their own, to experience the happiness of getting the things they need to have a great start to the school year.

When a summer electric bill is due or food stamps have run out, or the old car needs a repair so you can get to your part time job at the mini mart on time, getting your child new clothing and supplies for school is something that gets moved to the back of the line. And if there is a big brother or sister who needs new clothes and supplies as well, then the cost has doubled. These items may be essential for kids, but they can also be impossible for parents to afford.

We know that receiving a new outfit and school supplies provides concrete benefits above and beyond confidence and self-esteem – these items help kids stay on track to attend school regularly and to keep up with their classmates. Giving them the tools to learn sets them up for success for the entire school year.

Our Back to School Fund helps our coordinators stock cabinets full of supplies for children for when they return to school from summer break.

Wanting to Fit In

In addition to poverty, many of the children we serve are also dealing with some kind of trauma. The family situation may be chaotic and unhappy. Yet, while coping with poverty and instability, the children in our program want to look and feel just like any other kid. They want to fit in. Imagine the joy on a little girl’s face when she receives a new backpack emblazoned with Disney princesses, when she has never had a new book bag to start school; for once, she feels “normal”.

In the midst of their struggles, Children Incorporated and our caring sponsors and donors serve as a safety net. Our Back to School Fund helps kids, especially those still waiting hopefully for sponsors of their own, to experience the happiness of getting the things they need to have a great start to the school year. Your contributions will bring happiness, hope, and success to many children in need.

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HOW DO I DONATE TO THE BACK TO SCHOOL FUND?

You can donate to the Back to School Fund in one of two ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to the Back to School Fund.

Making a Difference in D.C.

Jennifer is a former program manager with Communities In Schools of Washington, D.C. During her time in this position, she became very familiar with the Children Incorporated program, and the impact that it has on students and their families. We work with Communities In Schools (CIS), a school dropout prevention organization, not only in our nation’s capital, but also in Richmond, Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Detroit, Michigan. Thanks to our partnership with CIS, we are able to support sponsored and unsponsored children in four schools in Washington, D.C.

Jennifer took some time to write to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, with special stories about just how our sponsors and donors are changing the lives of children enrolled in our program for the better. Jennifer wrote, “Thanks to your remarkable network of sponsors, we were able to provide required school uniforms, socks, underclothes, and winter coats, hats and gloves to children in need. We also provided a countless number of school supplies, personal care items, emergency food and more.”

Hope In Action working for kids

Jennifer continued. “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 volunteer 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 her daughter would be alright. At the 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 not 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 the student a proper eye exam and a pair of glasses.”

So many children getting support

Jennifer had even more stories to tell. She continued by writing, “This generous and consistent support provided to our students by Children Incorporated has literally been the factor that made the difference in their lives when it came to basic needs – and so many children are impacted in such positive ways by the sponsors in their lives. We were able to assist with student fees for individual students so that three fifth-grade students could join their classmates on a trip to Philadelphia. Thanks to Children Incorporated, four high school students were able to get their caps and gowns for graduation, and four eighth-graders had their class dues paid so that they could attend a boat trip and a picnic. Participation in these events is so important for kids to feel involved and connected.

“At the Cardozo Education Campus, one of our eighth-grade students was repeatedly being put out of school for not complying with the uniform policy; but with Children Incorporated’s support, we were able to provide him with three school uniforms – and he had excellent attendance for the rest of the school year. Two of our students at Charles Hart Middle School were removed from their biological families this year and placed in foster care. Without the support of Children Incorporated, which provided them with uniforms, socks, underclothes, and coats, as well as school supplies, their return to school would have been significantly delayed.”

On to higher education

“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 concluded with a few more heartwarming stories. Jennifer said, “At the Cardozo Education Campus, two students were literally able to graduate because of the generosity of and care from the Children Incorporated program. Nick* and Leslie* both had huge personal obstacles to overcome. Nick had been caring for his ill mother – on his own – and money was extremely tight. Without support, he could not pay for consistent transportation to get to and from school, and he could not afford uniforms, school supplies or weekly food. But thanks to your program, he graduated and was awarded the Strive for Success scholarship and the Pure and Perfect Empowerment Ministries Award, and will be enrolling in Virginia State University.

“Leslie also faced significant challenges. She and her mother had unstable housing, so their address frequently changed – and her mother could not afford the school uniforms. We were able to get Leslie shoes, basic clothing items, and her first pair of pajamas. We also provided her with a backpack full of school supplies, and checked in regularly with her teachers. Now, Leslie looks forward to beginning an Associate Nursing program in Baltimore as a high school graduate!

“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.”

*All names changed for individuals’ protection.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN WASHINGTON, D.C?

You can sponsor a child in Washington, D.C. 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.