Archives For September 2013

Changing the lives of children born into poverty

GUEST BLOGGER: Thomas R. Jenkins Jr., President and CEO, Nurse-Family Partnership

Thanks to Ira Silver for his new book, Giving Hope, that recognizes high-impact nonprofits like Nurse-Family Partnership® (NFP) that are giving disadvantaged young people a hand in improving their lives.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office, which has grown the NFP program across the United States. Nurse-Family Partnership helps to empower first-time mothers living in poverty to successfully change their lives and the lives of their children through evidence-based home visiting. From its inception, the NFP program has served close to 180,000 clients in 43 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and six tribal communities.

Each nurse home visitor is paired with a young mom to help her develop healthy pregnancy behaviors and develop competent parenting skills. In addition, NFP helps to stop the cycle of poverty by enabling each vulnerable mom to change her path in life. Her NFP nurse encourages her to set goals to go back to school and pursue her career choice to help her family become economically self-sufficient.

Ira is, indeed, “Giving Hope” in his new book with thoughtful appraisals on efforts that do work to combat social ills. As Ira says, his book is “an antidote to pessimism” as it highlights worthy nonprofits that are making a real difference in our country. Private donations enable Nurse-Family Partnership to bring this proven program to more vulnerable families and communities.

To help change the lives of children born into poverty, visit

(Photos courtesy of Nurse-Family Partnership)

Investing in kids’ success


“What’s missing in the current debate over economic inequality is enough serious discussion about investing in effective early childhood development from birth to age five,” Nobel Laureate James Heckman wrote a few days ago.

The Family Learning Center is one place where those investments are made every single day. For over 30 years, this nonprofit in Boulder, Colorado has been teaching low-income kids of all ages academic and personal skills to increase the likelihood that they will grow up to become self-sufficient and successful in whatever they choose to do.

Kids who live in safe neighborhoods, attend good schools, and get consistent guidance from adults have a hard enough time finding their way in the world these days. Yet, for the kids served by the Family Learning Center, making a successful transition to adulthood is considerably more challenging given the accumulated lifelong disadvantages they have experienced.

The Family Learning Center was founded by Brenda Lyle, who grew up in a low-income LA neighborhood. After relocating to Boulder as an adult, she wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of others like her. The organization began as a preschool for low-income families.  Over time it has developed programs for kids at all points in their educational careers.

Learn about the many ways to get involved with this important work; these include contributing money, donating goods, volunteering time, and attending events.

Success – One Student at a Time

GUEST BLOGGER: Dan Cardinali, President, Communities in Schools, Inc.


Education is supposed to be the great equalizer in American society, a sort of escape valve for kids born into the “poverty pipeline.” Public schools have always offered an implicit social contract: If you work hard, stay out of trouble, and earn a diploma, you can rise above the circumstances of your birth.

But the truth is that the circumstances of your birth play a huge role in your ability to live up to the terms of that contract. Poor kids come to school every day with tremendous burdens that hinder their ability to learn. It’s hard to focus on math or reading when you’re hungry or sick or worried about where you’re going to sleep tonight. In those conditions, it can seem like the “escape valve” has been welded shut from the outside.

That’s why the work of Communities in Schools is so vital. In low-performing schools across the country, we identify the most at-risk students, find out their needs, and then match them up with resources available in the local community – food, clothing, transportation, housing, medical care, mentoring, and much more.

It’s a simple, cost-effective model with astounding results: Among the 1.25 million students that we help each year, 92.6 percent of our seniors will graduate despite grinding poverty, difficult family situations and low expectations.

Caring adults are the linchpin to our successful model. Site Coordinators like Steven Weeks at Greer Middle School in South Carolina form close, lasting relationships with dozens of students in order to identify their needs and remove the barriers to academic success. It’s a rare mix of passion and professionalism. “Knowing that he’s there makes me feel confident,” said 12th grader Kayla. “I know I have a stable foundation under my feet and I know that when I fall I have someone to catch me.”

“After my dad died, I kind of lost it all. I didn’t care, I just kind of gave up on myself. Mr. Weeks, he gave me a lot of help, lifted me back up, put me back on track in my life,” commented 9th grader Raphael. “He was really the first friend I made in middle school. He was the closest thing to a father I could ever have. It’s just like someone you could never forget about, almost like a precious someone who belongs in your heart.”

We recently featured Steven in our “Unsung Heroes” video series. You can learn more about his work, along with a half dozen other Site Coordinators who are making a major difference every day.

Site Coordinators are full-time professionals, but there are plenty of other opportunities to show a kid that you care. We have 70,000 volunteers nationwide who are doing their part to create real educational opportunities for disadvantaged kids, and we would love for you to join them.

Please take the pledge to get involved and make a difference today.