CRADLES TO CRAYONS
Please signify the type of support you are requesting from Life Science Cares:
Everyday Essentials Program
Total Project Budget (if applicable):
In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is the requested project’s work?
Basic Human Survival
Description of Need (What is the issue you plan to address? What are the demographics and number of people you plan to serve, if applicable?):
There are currently more than 350,000 children living in poverty in the Philadelphia region. Children living in poverty often do not have the advantages readily available to their more affluent peers. They reside in fragile circumstances and are less likely to have books in their homes and clothing that fits and is seasonally appropriate. In the Maslow hierarchy of human needs, food, housing, and clothing are the greatest and most basic. Although there are government funded programs to assist with food and shelter, there are no federal or state programs for clothing which is the most visible sign of poverty and the most obvious indicator of disparity between young children living in poverty and their more affluent peers. Without intervention, children like these are more likely to be bullied and have low self-esteem, exhibit behavioral difficulties, be physically unhealthy, and fail academically - negative effects that persist long past childhood into their adult lives. They are also more likely to have children who will carry through generations the cycle/ legacy of poverty. Cradles to Crayons operates on the cost-effective model of connecting communities that “have” with communities that “need” by collecting donated new/gently used children's items for distribution to families unable to afford them. Cradles to Crayons partners with more than 280 human service organizations that serve at-risk children and families that assess the needs of children in their care and place specific orders online for them. Cradles to Crayons recognizes the challenges for the families we serve may only grow as the economic stalemate continues, with low-income families impacted most heavily. The families C2C serves were already those struggling to make ends meet and often making difficult trade-offs between buying everyday essentials for their children and making rent, utility, or other payments. The economic impact of the pandemic pushes these vulnerable families further into poverty and debt, while other population segments are largely unaffected or more easily able to weather an economic downturn. C2C will continue to adapt its method of service delivery into the foreseeable future and remains committed to being a steadfast resource for low-income and homeless children. Prior to the pandemic, approximately 2,200 volunteers joined us in our Giving Factory each month to package these items into KidPacks which contain 4-5 outfits, underwear, shoes, and seasonal apparel. We recognize that we may need to continue to make increased levels of product purchases and continue distributing items in bulk as social distancing and other safety measures continue to impact our operations, including volunteers and community-based product collection. This year, Cradles to Crayons has continued to engage thousands of volunteers throughout the region via virtual engagement platforms and have provided tangible ways for supporters to participate in the C2C mission and model in the comfort of their own homes. C2C has also continued to invite small groups of volunteers to the Giving Factory for socially distanced volunteer events. The Everyday Essentials program operates throughout the year and KidPacks are replenished as many as 3-4 times a year as children outgrow or deplete their supplies. The goal for the Everyday Essential program in 2021 is to distribute customized KidPacks to 30,000 children and provide 15,000 infants and toddlers with clothing/specialized equipment for a total served of 40,000. During the funding period, Cradles to Crayons will serve a total of 100,000 children through all programs.
Specific Activities (Please detail what activities you intend to undertake as a result of the grant. Include information about service delivery and timelines.):
Funding awarded will be used to provide children’s necessities not available through a donor acquisition model in FY2022, which begins on April 1, 2021 and ends on March 31, 2022. Some items supplied by Cradles to Crayons must be new, like school supplies, children’s underwear, and diapers; others, like car seats and seasonal apparel, including winter coats and boots, are not donated in adequate quantities to meet requests and must be purchased through retail or bulk distributors. A highly specialized component of Everyday Essentials is the Emergency Closet for families with children in crisis forced to hurriedly flee from domestic violence or other traumatic situations that require them to leave home without basic necessities. Cradles to Crayons is contacted by the facilities housing these families and within twenty-four hours or less, they are provided with age and gender appropriate KidPacks, back packs filled with school supplies, and specialized items for infants and toddlers to help normalize their lives and ease the financial burden of emergency relocation.
Evaluation (What are the anticipated results? What methods will you use to measure your progress? What does success look like?):
The objectives of all Cradles to Crayons programs, including Everyday Essentials, are to: 1) meet the child-serving goals established annually by the organization; 2) mitigate the acute effects and stigma of poverty; 3) provide essential items to children free of charge so that parents or guardians can redirect their limited incomes to the costs of other basic needs like rent, groceries, and childcare or for education and employment opportunities that advance their lives and help them become financially stable and self-sustaining; 4) increase the effectiveness of the region’s human service agencies so they don’t have to source children’s items and can focus on other family needs; and 5) encourage civic engagement and volunteerism in local communities. Cradles to Crayons primarily measures the success of all programs by tracking the number of children served in each and the satisfaction of partner agencies. Progress toward goals is assessed weekly by administration, then compiled into reports for Board review. Cradles to Crayons does not track children’s progress directly; rather, to determine program outcomes and the satisfaction of client/partner agencies, the agencies are surveyed annually to better assess the impact of services. Partner agencies are in constant contact with Cradles to Crayons and provide anecdotal feedback that is assessed with tracked data at administration/board meetings. Feedback is also provided by regional schools/ community resources where Cradles to Crayons has a presence. Goals proposed for FY2021 (April 1, 2020-March 31, 2021) were to: Serve 75,000 needy local children through all programs Provide customized KidPacks to 25,000 children through Everyday Essentials Distribute back packs of school supplies to 35,000 children and provide 15,000 infants and toddlers with specialty items. FY2021 Actuals: Served 90,978 needy local children through all programs, provided customized KidPacks to 25,513 children through Everyday Essentials, distributed backpacks of school supplies to 39,718 children through Ready for School and provided 25,747 infants and toddlers with specialty items. The challenge for Everyday Essentials and all Cradles to Crayons programs continues to be rising poverty in the region and with our new larger warehouse, we are on track to successfully address this demand.
Does this project already have support from life science companies? If so, what is the nature of that support?
We receive support from various life science companies through their matching gift programs (Merk, GSK) and to support their volunteer experience in and outside of our Giving Factory.
EFFECTIVENESS, COLLABORATION, INNOVATION
Is there any other information not captured elsewhere regarding your organization, project, program or initiatives that you believe will help the Life Science Cares team in evaluating your request?
C2C is one of the few organizations in the nation that focuses on Clothing Insecurity. More than 80% of C2Cs’ 280 statewide service partners report that they would not be able to provide clothing and other essentials to children without C2C. Cradles to Crayons believes that a free KidPack with a week’s worth of seasonal clothing (including outerwear, footwear, sleepwear, underwear) or a backpack with school supplies is critical to healthy early child development and well-being: from boosting school attendance, being ready to learn, and able to engage in play or physical activity every day and in every season.
How does your organization or program differentiate from other organizations doing similar work? Are you executing or proposing to executive an innovation in program or service?
Cradles to Crayons is unique in the way we partner with 280 various social service agencies, shelters, school programs and individual social workers to support children in need across the Greater Philadelphia region. Our ability to provide customized packages of essentials that are distributed in as little as two weeks and provide seasonally appropriate items throughout the year is another way that we provide outstanding service. The connection of hands on philanthropy through the volunteer experience we provide to the community is something that Cradles to Crayons is renowned for and we are one of the few service venues that can accommodate large groups of volunteers both in person and virtually, from ages 5-85. In 2020, Cradles to Crayons was awarded a 4-star rating from Guidestar and Charity Navigator for the twelfth consecutive year, making it one of only two percent of nonprofit agencies in the nation to have earned this distinction. In its thirteenth-year history, Cradles to Crayons has served over 700,000 vulnerable children in Southeast Pennsylvania and engaged over 400,000 community volunteers. We are honored to have received this rating again and proud that it reflects the hard work and commitment of our staff, volunteers, partner agencies and funders as together we serve Philadelphia area’s most impoverished children.