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Connections: An update from Daymaker 2020 Holiday Campaign nonprofit partners

May 11, 2021

During the 2020 Holiday giving campaign with Daymaker, donors gave generously to more than 4,000 children supported by local nonprofits across the country.We've met with our wonderful nonprofit partners over a series of interactions this spring, collecting input as well as feedback for how we can improve in the future.Coming out of those meetings, the Daymaker team wanted to share an update on how the year has fared for the children, and the joy and growth that your support helped inspire. See below for an update from some of our core nonprofit partners doing amazing work:Friends of the Children, San FranciscoAt the onset of the pandemic, Cedric, a mentor working at Friends of the Children San Francisco (SF), struggled to maintain contact with one of his mentees as contact was previously facilitated through partnering schools. Because the oldest students are only in fourth grade, they do not have cell phones. Communication is reliant on their guardians who may be working multiple jobs and caring for multiple children. After some persistence, Cedric was invited to the home of his mentee. During his visit, he learned that his mentee was one of multiple children in a single-mother household in which there was not enough food for everyone.Friends of the Children SF is situated in San Francisco’s Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods where, as of 2020, more than 30 percent of neighborhood households make $30,000 or less per year, and gentrification is rapidly displacing the area's Black residents.Cedric resolved to make food available to his mentee's family, kickstarting Friends of the Children's food distribution program. Mentors have since worked to establish relationships with students' guardians, caretakers, and siblings when they deliver groceries to students' homes.This is only one example of the pivot towards community-based outreach the organization has made in order to adapt to constantly shifting needs of their students and families amidst the ongoing pandemic. Grounding themselves in students' communities, Friends of the Children SF is stronger because of this pivot and intends to sustain this expanded programming. Currently, Friends of the Children SF serves 100 students and their families, and they've launched major fundraising efforts with the goal of expanding their program to invite another 35 students.All the mentors that comprise Friends of the Children SF chapter are people of color. The chapter has prioritized an overlooked factor of child wellbeing by ensuring children can see themselves in the mentors who have authentic connections to the communities in which their mentees are living and learning. These connections shape collective socio-emotional experiences that are rooted in shared identities — as many families navigate traumatic situations, the mentors are being impacted as well.All the mentors that comprise Friends of the Children SF chapter are people of color. The chapter has prioritized an overlooked factor of child wellbeing by ensuring children can see themselves in the mentors who have authentic connections to the communities in which their mentees are living and learning.While recollecting the excitement of their partnership with Daymaker and donors, Susan Corlett, Director of Development and Communications, exclaimed, "This feeling, with your over-the-top generosity, that you’re at our back. With COVID… to have wishlists, educational materials, and resources to do virtually with our kids. What a good time to provide some wind in our sails!"Donor support of their mission and families enabled Friends of the Children SF to focus their resources on working directly with families. During a tumultuous holiday season for many, Daymaker was able to ensure that every child at Friends of the Children SF received a bundle of gifts - all siblings of kids in the program received a gift as well! The items arrived specially wrapped and featured the variety of play-based educational materials as well as interest-specific toys and books you purchased from their holiday wishlists.All people, especially children, need play for intellectual and socio-emotional growth, as well as identity development and cultural awareness. Together, you, Daymaker donors, and the Daymaker team were able to address this critical need that is often de-prioritized or overlooked due to the urgency of physiological needs such as food and shelter. We are grateful to be in the position to "provide some wind" to our nonprofit partners, and we are grateful for your contributions and collaboration in this work!+++Friends of the Children provides long-term mentorship opportunities for children from kindergarten through high school. Their mission is to impact generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. We encourage you to learn more information about Friends of the Children SF and the communities they serve by visiting their website.Overbrook Educational Center, PhiladelphiaOur partnership with Overbrook Educational Center (OEC) began in April 2020, one month after the school district shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During those first months of quarantine, OEC went to work planning virtual end-of-year ceremonies, hosting a socially distanced Kindergarten graduation, and doing what they could to create joy for their approximately 300 K-8 students during such a precarious time.Overbrook serves the largest population of blind and visually impaired students in the entire Philadelphia Public School District. Nearly 1/3 of their student population is blind or visually impaired (VI).Overbrook is a unique place in that they are both a Title 1 school, which indicates that children from low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment, and a community school, a mayoral signature initiative that embeds social services and other supports inside Philadelphia School District buildings in an effort to remove barriers to learning. Overbrook serves the largest population of blind and visually impaired students in the entire Philadelphia Public School District. Nearly 1/3 of their student population is blind or visually impaired (VI). OEC currently has four VI classrooms, a life skills program for students with visual impairments, and have begun integrating doctors appointments into the school day for VI students. Like many low-income families during the pandemic, Overbook parents struggled with food availability. Students were no longer able to receive the usual breakfast and lunch served inside the school. Overbook mobilized, covering out-of-pocket costs as a school, and began a reoccurring food distribution program that sourced food from two local businesses.While explaining the significance of their partnership with Daymaker, Caroline Robinson, OEC Community School Coordinator, shared that "Daymaker was one of those partners that showed up, and continues to show up, ready to share all the joy they have to give. They provide our kids with high quality gifts that are... meant not just to help them have fun, but to encourage them to be curious, bold, and imagine all the things they are capable of. I hope that every school finds a partner like Daymaker, because every kid deserves those moments, and we couldn't be more grateful to Daymaker for bringing them to OEC."Your support of their mission and families, through Daymaker, contributes to OEC's efforts to promote imaginative exploration as a means of revealing students' limitless potential. Daymaker's gifts arrived specially wrapped and featured the variety of play-based educational materials as well as interest-specific toys and books you purchased from their holiday wishlists.+++OEC's mission is to prepare students to become positive, productive citizens who can live independently and with purpose to serve others. They aim for proficiency for all students in each subject area and for the development of strong character. We encourage you to learn more information about OEC and the communities they serve by visiting their website.Zaman International, DetroitDuring our 2020 Holiday giving campaign with Daymaker, donors gave generously to children supported by local nonprofits.The Daymaker team wanted to share an update on how the spring has gone for the children, and the joy and growth you helped inspire. See below for a note highlighting Zaman International, one of Daymaker's core nonprofit partners: During the pandemic in 2020, Zaman International distributed 370,000 pounds of food - doubling their 2019 distribution. The vast needs have continued into 2021. The pandemic has also revealed new inequities around educational access for Zaman's families — both children and adults. To address these needs, Zaman has provided wifi to families, created an open working space in their Hope for Humanity Center, and provided more flexible course offerings for their vocational students.During the pandemic in 2020, Zaman International distributed 370,000 pounds of food - doubling their 2019 distribution.Zaman began by helping refugees largely from Iraq coming into the the Detroit area. Presently, Zaman has a large African American population in addition to the West Asian refugee population they are serving. The organization's services are open to everyone with a particular focus on women with children living well below the poverty line. Most of their families make below $10,000 a year as Detroit ranks amongst the poorest cities in the United States.Zaman International now operates out of its Hope for Humanity Center, a 40,500 square foot building that consolidated the organization's six operating locations into one facility that serves all of Zaman’s clients from across Dearborn, Detroit, Hamtramck, Taylor, and Wyandotte. This move allows them to host vocational and literacy programs in-house as well as create new production jobs related to sewing and culinary arts.Donor support of their mission and families through Daymaker, contributed to Zaman's efforts to support their clients' entire family unit through holistic, wrap-around services. Daymaker's gifts arrived specially wrapped and featured the variety of play-based educational materials as well as interest-specific toys and books donors purchased from their holiday wishlists.Monica, Zaman International's Chief Impact Officer, shared: "One of the children that was supported by Daymaker through Zaman is autistic. His mother informed us how the toys provided to him helped work on his problem solving skills and provided visual stimulation."Monica elaborated, "What's more - to give moms the opportunity to provide these items and experiences for their kids respects her own dignity as a parent, as well."+++Zaman International's mission is to facilitate change and advance the lives of marginalized women and children, by enabling them to meet essential needs common to all humankind. We encourage you to learn more information about Zaman and the communities they serve by visiting their website.Reality Changers, San DiegoReality Changers' mission is to prepare youth experiencing extreme or severe poverty to become first-generation college graduates and agents of change in their communities. Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, graduates of Reality Changers boasted hard-earned and well-deserved acceptances to colleges and universities as near as San Diego State, and as far away as Harvard. However, as COVID-19 infections reached record highs in 2020, nearly 15% of these students were impelled to leave the program and switch focus to care for sick family members – many of whom were essential workers – and even earn a living to offset loss income in the household.Thanks to the generosity of donors through Daymaker, Reality Changers was afforded the opportunity to provide joy to emotionally struggling students, some of whom had experienced the loss of a loved one during the pandemic. VP of Community Impact and Partnerships Jordan Harrison shared, “For us…this expands on our ability to show care, bring joy and love to our families. This partnership has been crucial during COVID, it has encouraged families and our staff to connect with our students through gifts. Honestly, it alleviates the pressures some of our families feel when they may be deciding between rent or a family outing.”The San Diego based nonprofit serves between 500 and 600 students each year, largely from immigrant and English Language Learner (ELL) communities. Academically challenged eighth graders are identified and provided with weekly tutoring, community service opportunities, and college readiness support through high school graduation. The education-centric program exposes children and their families to the benefits of a college education and inspires them to dream big and persevere until those dreams are realized.The San Diego based nonprofit serves between 500 and 600 students each year, largely from immigrant and English Language Learner (ELL) communities.“I hope our kids expand their view of what is possible, that they learn about important historical and current figures, and get their hands dirty and active. The beauty of this [Daymaker] partnership is that it is not just a toy, it is an experience. It is the tenderness of the notes sent from donors, it is the thoughtfulness in the gifts, it is the constant communication from the staff to ours about how we can truly partner together,” remarked Harrison.+++To learn about Reality Changers and help advance their mission of universal access to college, visit realitychangers.org.Agape Youth & Family Center, AtlantaAgape Youth & Family Center has been a staple in the Northwest community of Atlanta, Georgia for decades, growing from a need to support children facing systemic poverty and provide food, homework assistance and a safe and nurturing environment to enjoy after school. Since 2009, high school seniors enrolled at Agape have had a 98% graduation rate and have typically participated in the program for seven years. Today, Agape continues to empower and support underserved families within its community to discover, embrace, and achieve their full potential. Although, how they execute on that mission has transformed many times over, as they adapt to changes in community demographics, poverty levels, and of course, the global coronavirus pandemic. Agape’s largely Latinx student population of over 250 children has especially been impacted by the pandemic. Existing financial strains were often exasperated by familial income loss and illness, increasing barriers to education through lack of technology and the intimate distraction of hunger. Agape’s Director of Programs, Marlon Montgomery, recalls one student who was especially suffering. A child who, at the height of the pandemic, faced food insecurity while sharing his small home with as many as twelve other family members and neighbors combined. Montgomery shared, “[He] wasn’t completing homework or logging into classes, and it was probably safe to say that his environment was draining his enthusiasm away. Not only did returning to in-person support at Agape help with his joy but meeting him at the door with some of our Daymaker gifts (I think he has both the Eat the Rainbow and Shake it Up Kits) added a layer of excitement and fun.”As community needs intensified, Agape once again pivoted and reopened its facilities – expanding it’s after school services to include all day access and support. Children are picked up from their homes by bus and enjoy remote learning from modernized school- and age-specific classrooms. Students are fed three meals a day, have access to arts, computer labs, a large gym, and tutoring from Agape’s largely bilingual staff members. Literacy has always been a pillar of Agape’s programming, and their students – like many others throughout the United States – have needed extra help to return to reading at or above grade level.When students felt unseen, receiving Daymaker holiday and monthly discovery bundles and farm-to-home kits were a wonderful reminder that they were still being thought of. Coupled with diving back into college readiness programs, the return of summer camps, and the opportunity to regularly see their friends, students at Agape are once again experiencing joy.When students felt unseen, receiving Daymaker holiday and monthly discovery bundles and farm-to-home kits were a wonderful reminder that they were still being thought of.“Thank you for continuing to produce joy for students who have many barriers to finding smiles. We live for sparking this joy here at Agape, and what you do through Daymaker only enhances who we are and creates yet another extension to our goal of helping students discover, embrace, and achieve their full potential.” Montgomery adds, “I hope our kids gain appreciation for the little things and also experience something new through the gifts from Daymaker partners. I also hope they are inspired to become gift-givers that give through a lens of social responsibility and social awareness. Thank you from the bottom of our heart!”+++To learn about Agape Youth & Family Center and how they are impacting the lives of children in Atlanta thought character development, academic achievement, reading proficiency, visit agapeatlanta.com.Thank you to all of our wonderful nonprofit partners. For more on what we do and who we serve at Daymaker, we invite you to view our holiday blog and video.

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