Tag Archives: Education

CFED and the 1:1 Fund

28 Jun

The Corporation of Enterprise Development (CFED), a national nonprofit based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for low-income families and communities. Their impact is achieved through their “think-do-invest” approach grounded in public policy, community practice and private markets:

  • Think: CFED explores ideas and practices that enable families and communities to participate in the mainstream economy
  • Do: They gather investors, local businesses and policymakers to demonstrate how programs would work for communities nationwide
  • Invest: They onboard investors and policy advocates eager to see the large scale implementation of programs that could bring about positive social and economic change

The 1:1 Fund: Among the most recently implemented programs is the 1:1 Fund, CFED’s newest social enterprise. The 1:1 Fund is a creative approach to enlisting donor support and creating economic opportunity for American’s youth. The program is led by Carl Rist out of Durham’s CFED office. Carl previously served as the director of CFED’s Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship and Downpayment (SEED) initiative, bringing innovative matched savings programs to children and youth in low-income families. The 1:1 Fund, on the other hand, is an online savings portal that harnesses the power of technology, state-of-the-art marketing and data management, enabling donors to help students save money. Simply put, it’s an opportunity for anyone to match their donation with that of a student to help them realize their dreams.

How does it work? For every dollar a student saves, their donor matches the same amount, penny for penny. Research shows that a student with a savings account is four times more likely to go to college, seven times more likely if the account is in their own name! The dreams of too many students remain dreams simply because of the lack of support and access to funding. The 1:1 Fund presents a solution to this problem.

Think about it, then do it… invest! Here’s a link to the 1:1 Fund, the CFED website and their social links:


Communities in Schools: the leading dropout prevention organization

25 Jun

 Back in the 1970s, Bill Milliken, then a youth advocate in New York City, conceived the idea of bringing community resources into public schools and founded Communities in Schools. In little over 30 years, Communities in Schools has become the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization. Their network includes over 5,000 passionate professionals in 25 states and D.C., who serve nearly 1.3 million young people in over 3,400 schools. Their mission: to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

Communities in Schools of Wake County

Communities in Schools of Wake County  (CIS Wake) has been supporting schools in the N.C. Triangle for more than 20 years. CIS Wake currently serves over 500 students in five after-school community-based learning centers and in six Wake County public school sites. By the end of this year CIS Wake will have completed the implementation of Communities in School’s national model, enabling them to expand their service offerings to more than 1,600 students. CIS Wake has three core programs:

Graduation Coaches: provide goal-oriented coaching to ensure that every CIS Wake student has a personalized plan to graduate from high school, to reduce and ultimately eliminate drop-out rates

Eligibility Coaches: fill a very similar role to Graduation Coaches but target student-athletes to address their specific needs

Learning Centers: provide students with a place to go afterschool where they get tutorials, mentoring and homework assistance. The Learning Center monitors the students’ progress in a) attendance, b) behavior, and c) coursework.

Communities in Schools continues to expand nationally, offer its services to more students, and improve its results. During the 2009 – 2010 school year:

  • 98% of students remained in school and on track to graduate
  • 88% of students were promoted to the next grade
  • 87% of seniors graduated on time
  • 82% of students reduced their high-risk behavior
  • Click here for more proven results

CIS Wake now looks forward to its expansion to 1,600 students, which includes opening a sixth community-based learning center, the addition of three new school locations and an increase to 250 community volunteers. To learn more about their plans and to get involved, connect with them! Here are their social links:

KidZNotes: Using the Power of Music for Good

21 Jun

Inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema music education program, KidZNotes is a nonprofit organization that uses musical instruction as a vehicle for social change and poverty alleviation in Durham’s poorest neighborhoods. By improving their musical performance, KidZNotes instruction helps children to develop values and aspirations for personal upliftment, encourages them to make positive decisions about their future, and contributes to their success in school and in society. In only the second year of its three-year East Durham Pilot Project, KidZNotes already plays an important role in the Durham community and looks bound for continued success.

The organization’s ambitious mission is rooted in well-established El Sistema ideals (listed here) published by economist and musician José Antonio Abreu in 1975. Venezuela’s El Sistema program now oversees 125 youth orchestras and training programs and over 310,000 children nationwide. While these are admirable ideals to aspire for, KidZNotes has identified clear objectives to guide the organization:

  • Encourage children’s participation in music training and improve their musical performance abilities
  • Foster the development of children’s social behavior and values that contribute to success at school and in society
  • Support the development of children’s school readiness and academic achievement
  • Encourage children’s positive decision-making
  • Promote parents’ engagement in program and community activities

The program performs a basic but vital preventative function in the children’s lives by helping them choose to stay away from drug abuse, alcoholism, crime, and harmful relationships, and the many ills of underrepresented urban communities. Children that succeed in the program develop the will to improve both their musical ability, and their social and economic situation.

This year the organization added its fourth school to grow the program to 100 children, partnered with the North Carolina Symphony, established a home-base in East Durham and taken root in the community. KidZNotes is carefully is documenting the success of East Durham’s pilot project, and looks forward to expanding into other areas of Durham and North Carolina.

Here are their social links, connect with them!

The Tomorrow Fund: Educating Students to Create Leaders

20 Jun

The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students (TTFHS) has long recognized how tertiary education can empower young Hispanic/Latino students to become leaders in their communities, and can act as a driver of social and economic change. Launched in 2009, the organization has been helping young Hispanic/Latino students from low income families afford their college tuition. In its first two years alone, they have made a total of $118,000 in grants and assisted 33 students at 8 different North Carolina colleges.

North Carolina’s Young Leaders

TTFHS offers grants to North Carolina post-secondary institutions for their Hispanic immigrant students in financial need. In return, the receiving institutions agree to provide additional financial assistance to its TTFHS Hispanic scholars. The Tommorrow Fund’s goal is not simply to provide the scholarships, but to bridge the final financial aid gap Hispanic students still face once all other possible financial assistance has been applied. In doing so, TTFHS becomes an agent of change in North Carolina’s underrepresented communities, helping its young adults to become leaders and be a part of that change.

W deeply admire TTFHS’s commitment to helping young Hispanic students in North Carolina and look forward to seeing their amazing accomplishments in 2012!

Here are their social links, connect with them!


Denise Chan is the Marketing Associate at Catchafire. Prior to Catchafire, she was a freelance blogger at Millennial Matchmaking. Denise graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Ethnic Studies.

El Centro Hispano: Supporting North Carolina’s Latino Communities for 20 Years

13 Jun

20 years ago the Catholic and Episcopal churches of North Carolina founded El Centro Hispano. Back then, their goals were simple: provide ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, a women’s support group and a summer camp for kids. Their goals were humble but their vision was boundless! Five years later, in 1997, El Centro Hispano became an independent nonprofit organization, and today it is the largest Latino organization in North Carolina “dedicated to strengthening the Latino community and improving the quality of life of Latino residents in Durham, Carrboro, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas.”

As the organization has expanded, so has its program offerings. Today El Centro Hispano provides a multitude of programs in:

  • Education: Includes ESL and Spanish literacy classes, parental education for new mothers and youth support programs addressing race relations, crime prevention, and cultural preservation. The youth programs also include volunteer tutors and a week-long summer camp for low-income Latino children.
  • Health: The overall goal of the health program is to improve the general health and well-being of the Latino community as well as improve access and usage of the health care services available. The health programs are provided for men, women, children and the LGBT community.
  • Culture and Services: These programs help Latino families adjust to life in America, and understand the U.S. legal system with regards to health, housing, employment and immigration. These services include everything from help completing forms, translation services, a jobs board and much more.
  • Community Organization: Community Educators is a monthly meeting to identify and train community leaders who in turn work to solve problems in their neighborhoods. Health Promoters, on the other hand, provides volunteers trained in specific but common health issues.

Durham School of the Arts students who took part in Enlaces, a Latino youth outreach program of El Centro Hispano and Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs, gathered with teachers and parents to celebrate their efforts and progress.

Looking ahead, El Centro Hispano’s strategic priorities include funding, strengthening community relations, and developing the capacity of their staff and board. The organization is thankful for the generous support of foundations, organizations and individuals in their community and beyond. El Centro is also a membership-based organization, visit their site to learn more about both sponsorship and membership opportunities. Connect and get involved! Here are their social links:

MDC: Hard work, hanging in there, beating the odds

7 Jun

The MDC is an integral part of the American South, North Carolina and the history of workers’ rights in America. In the late 60’s the South saw a manufacturing boom that impacted its agricultural sector. The MDC was established in 1967 by the North Carolina Fund to help displayed farm workers successfully transition into factory jobs. The organization was – and still is – an agent of social and political change in the region, a defender of workers’ rights, and an effective force in the South’s overall economic progress.

The organization’s story is a history lesson about the South’s social and economic progress (read it here). Its history is rich and its influence broad, but its focus is sharp. The MDC’s mission is to help “organizations and communities close the gaps that separate people from opportunity.” They do this through three core program areas:

  • Education: Rightly so, the MDC approaches education as the pathway to opportunity. By increasing institutional capacity for disadvantaged students, reforming public policy to increase access to higher education, and promoting the link between education and economic well-being, the MDC is helping young people succeed in school and find meangingful work.
  • Work: The MDC has over 40 years of experience in workforce development, and while its agenda has changed to adapt to the evolving needs of the region’s workforce, the MDC has remained consistent and true to its fundamental goal: to remove the barriers between people and jobs.

“A Time of Reckoning:” An MDC report created for the Mississippi State Legislature’s Special Task force for the Revitalization of the Delta Region.

  • Assets: The MDC – and the people they serve – need the tools necessary to fulfil their mission – and gain access to education and jobs. By developing the South’s philanthropic assets, the MDC is reducing poverty and promoting social equality, and empowering underserved communities to help themselves.

R.C. Smith, a writer living in Jamestown, N.C., who spent 25 years on the organization’s staff, describes the MDC today as younger but just as focused and passionate. And true to the organization’s founding principles, and the South’s troubled history of workers’ rights, Smith said this of the MDC: “If you have enthusiasm, can handle the clash of strong opinions, and want to make a difference in the lives of people and their communities, there is no better place to work… What do the initials MDC stand for? Hard work, hanging in there, beating the odds!”

Our Boston Founding Members helping children and youth in need

21 Nov

Congratulations and thank you to Boston’s Founding 30 for coming on board with Catchafire, and for making our Boston launch event last Monday the success that it was. Today we conclude a blog series featuring the last four of our Founding 30, who are helping children and young adults in Boston and across the nation to lead safe, happy lives and realize their dreams, whatever their circumstances.

Since its formation in 1986, Youth Villages has been helping emotionally troubled children and their families. Its programs and services have a national reputation as the most effective available. They’re focused on results and employ evidence-based treatment models to fulfill a refined and simple goal: building stronger families.

The organization provides therapy in the least restrictive setting available – the child’s own home. This enables Youth Villages to work closely with families to create permanent solutions. There are about 425,000 children in foster care across the US and every 38 minutes, Youth Villages brings another child into their care. This year alone they’re working with more than 17,000 children and families in 11 states.

Despite Youth Villages’ incredible success rate of 80% (twice the national average), the organization can always use more help. Visit their website to view opportunities to mentor, volunteer, donate, fundraise and attend events.

ROCA focuses on supporting the most disenfranchised young people living the Greater Boston area, including those involved with gangs, school and college dropouts, young parents, refugees and immigrants. By helping them transition into educational and life skills programming and employment, ROCA is helping them to re-engage with society.

Founded in 1988, ROCA has helped more than 25,000 young people to take responsibility for their lives and make meaningful change. ROCA doesn’t simply help young people find future opportunities, it provides them with the skills and motivation they need to proactively and enthusiastically embrace these opportunities, thereby ensuring long-term success. Of the 705 young people engaged with ROCA this year alone, 90% remain actively involved in ROCA’s program.

There are many way for those living in the Greater Boston area and beyond to get involved. Get the ball rolling!

Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) provides youth with positive role models and one-to-one and group mentoring programs, empowering them to achieve their personal, educational and professional goals. They have pioneered a number of nationally recognized, award winning mentoring services.

Mentor Match, PYD’s primary program, provides adult mentors for 40-60 youth every year. Mentors, often disabled themselves, foster close relationships and focus on independent living skills. An array of other programs help troubled youths build skills in self-advocacy, entrepreneurship, career development, socialization, leadership and healthy living, to name a few. The Access to Theatre program, for example, gives youth with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the arts and explore their creative talents.

PYD’s scope is broad, as are their volunteer opportunities. Volunteers are key to the organization’s success and continual growth. Interested in becoming a mentor or simply hosting a “Job Shadow Day”? Contact YPD via their site.

Hubert Eugene Jones, or “Hubie Jones,” has been shaping the social landscape of Boston for over 45 years. In addition to building, rebuilding and leading a number of community organizations across Boston, Jones chaired a task force that effectively spearheaded the enactments of two landmark laws in Massachusetts, the Special Education Law and the Bilingual Education Law. Jones created the taskforce after discovering how 10,000 children were, for a number of reasons, being excluded from the school system. That was back in 1967.

Fast-forward 43 years and he’s on a new mission. Modeled after New York City’s Harlem Children Zone, Jones has formed Higher Ground. Higher Ground will focus its efforts on certain “impact areas”, providing the services needed most and working closely with other social good organizations to increase their effectiveness. Higher Ground is still raising startup capital, but with the extremely determined Hubie Jones behind the project, it’s destined for success.

If you missed our post on the Founding 30, check it out here.

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