The Future of KIDS Is In Your Hands…
By Larry and Jane Levine
When we first started Kids Can Make A Difference (KIDS) twenty-one years ago, we never could have anticipated the longevity or relevance of the program. KIDS started at a middle-school in York, Maine and at the end of our first year there were 20 schools in the Northeast involved in this embryonic program.
Today we have grown into a highly respected worldwide education program through our alliance with the International Education & Resource Network (iEARN). KIDS has a proven record of success in helping young people understand that it is within their power to foster change in their community and world. Through the KIDS’ program, young people understand that social justice is at the heart of our mission.
Let us start by thanking those of you who have been such an important part of the KIDS’s story. Without your faithful and generous financial and spiritual support none of the progress we have made to date would have been possible. We welcome the new readers of this newsletter and invite you to become more than just "readers."
The coming years will see great changes take place in the KIDS/iEARN program for a variety of reasons. The program will be faced with opportunities that will call upon us to change from the way we have operated in the past. One of the pressing situations KIDS faces is the phasing out of the involvement of its two founding members. We anticipate that over the next five years or so, Jane & I will lessen our involvement in the daily operation of the program. It is our desire to restructure KIDS, so that the LEGACY and vision we have for KIDS is ensured.
As you are aware, the operation of KIDS has been very low cost due to the fact that no one associated with the program was paid. Therefore, our administrative costs were kept artificially low as Jane and I were able to provide the unpaid “sweat labor” and all the other daily chores/responsibilities involved in growing and maintaining the program.
This was possible in large measure because we have been blessed with a highly dedicated Advisory Board and volunteers who have supported us in more ways than we can enumerate. This is no longer sustainable as I am 80 years old and Jane is a scant four years younger. While we are not ready to be put out to pasture, as Bob Dylan sang…”The times they are a changing.” We must raise funds to support the daily operation of the program and build upon the foundation in place today.
In order to carry this message forward in the transition period and beyond, it entails the following changes to the structure of KIDS.
• The establishment of a paid overall manager of KIDS
o This person is already active in KIDS and serves as our outreach manager on a volunteer basis. The time has come to bring her aboard as employee and expand the scope of her responsibilities.
• While we are fortunate that a member of the iEARN staff has been actively aiding KIDS, we would like to establish a permanent iEARN staff person to be the conduit between the two organizations.
• In addition, the administrative and record keeping tasks now performed by us need to be transferred to iEARN. KIDS is to remain as a self-funded program of iEARN and retain its identity.
• Maintenance and refreshing of the KIDS Website. The site has become a “go to” source of information about the areas of hunger, poverty & inequality. This year the site achieved over three million hits. In addition, over 65% of visitors bookmark the site signifying their intention to return. Both the number of hits and “bookmarks” demonstrate that the site is filling a need for information about the subject matter.
• Funds are needed to increase our visibility at the numerous teacher conferences held around the country
• Development of an emergency fund to insure the long term viability of KIDS
Here is where you come into the picture. We are asking you to become our LEGACY Partner by joining us in ensuring that the transition proceeds smoothly. You can do this by making an investment in the LEGACY CAMPAIGN so that the work that has taken place is carried forward for years to come.
The goal of the campaign is to raise $300,000 over five years to fully fund the program. Fifty percent of the money raised will be used to support KIDS programmatic work over the next five years and the remaining fifty percent will secure the legacy of KIDS’ founders.
We look forward to welcoming you as a member of the Legacy Campaign.
Larry Levine and Jane Levine, Ed.D.