Most of us can look back on our childhoods and recall memories of fun, friendships and love. Unfortunately, not all kids are lucky enough to have a picture perfect childhood. Whether coming from an abused household or just not having the resources to foster a positive learning environment, many kids are lacking the love and support needed to develop and transition into adulthood. Thankfully, there are a number of nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing the resources needed to help youth learn positive values and build lasting, healthy relationships. Here are NerdWallet’s top 4 youth enrichment nonprofits.
Real Options for City Kids: For integrating athletics into personal development
Based in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley, Real Options for City Kids (R.O.C.K.) has been fantastically serving youth for over 18 years. R.O.C.K. provides in-school and after-school enrichments programs for students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to have an encouraging relationship with an adult role-model, and engage in positive academic and social experiences. The organization has innovative programs for elementary, middle, and high school students and works to provide services to students as they grow and transition through adolescence and early adulthood. At the elementary school level, adult role-models emphasize exciting fitness activities, childhood development and academic support. As students transition to middle school, their relationships evolve and an emphasis is put on being exposed to challenging outdoor activities and community service. In the final stage of the program, R.O.C.K. works to engage students in more outdoor activities, leadership programs and job training. The organization strives to provide positive opportunities for youth throughout their childhood so that they can blossom into thriving adults. This long and enduring process of fostering positive academic and fitness programs has earned R.O.C.K. many accolades in the local community. We love that they are supporting kids in the great city that we call our headquarters!
Playworks: For Providing Anti-Bullying Environments
Playworks is a national nonprofit organization reaching an impressive 425,000 students this year to provide bullying-free fun at recess. This allows students to have a more enjoyable learning experience throughout the day. Playworks sends expert adult program coordinators, or “coaches,” to low-income schools to organize positive activities during recess, in the classroom and during non-school hours. They have proven that fun activities during recess and in class maximize learning opportunities for students and teachers, and foster a better learning environment for students. In addition to youth programs, Playworks offers training and professional development workshops for adults who routinely interact with students on the playground. These workshops are designed to help develop essential skills to create a better recess environment so students can enjoy their time in school. Currently, Playworks has full-time coaches in 380 schools in 23 cities, and will reach another 400 schools around the country through training. Playworks hopes to expand to operate in 27 cities by 2015 to reach their goal of brightening the lives of 1 million students every day. We commend this organization for creating bullying-free environments that allow students to truly thrive and grow. Keep up the great work!
Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center: For Supporting Abused Children
The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) provides vital and indispensable services to abused children in Dallas County, Texas. The DCAC integrates a wide variety programs and services to fulfill all the needs of an abused child. They work to stop the reoccurrence of abuse in households, remove barriers to investigation through a combination of conventional and innovative therapy programs and raise awareness of child abuse via education programs. They also support criminal prosecution through the use of a “multidisciplinary team,” which combines the outstanding skills of a police detective, assistant district attorney, Child Protective Services caseworker, forensic interviewer, therapist and a consulting physician. One of the unique programs that the DCAC offers is an Animal Assisted Therapy Program that uses animals to provide comfort and bring smiles to these children’s faces. Through the holistic approach, the DCAC is able to greatly support kids in need. The talented staff at DCAC works around the clock to improve the lives of these children who have been put in adverse situations, and we support their efforts!
A Ban Against Neglect: For Combining Environmental and Youth Support Efforts
A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN) is an amazing organization started by foreign exchange students who noticed rampant pollution of plastic bags in Accra, the capital of Ghana. During their time in Ghana, these students realized that Ghanaians used sandwich-sized plastic bags to transport their water supplies. Once the water was consumed, these bags were just chucked into the street. In addition, over 30,000 youth are forced to sleep on those same streets. The founders thought of a solution: why not combine clean up and youth support efforts by selling handmade products from the neglected bags? The intensive one-year program is simple yet effective: ABAN provides shelter, seamstress training, counseling and educational courses in business, money management, health and English to women aged 15 to 19. The goal is that upon completion of ABAN’s program, these women are able to function and transition into a prosperous life off the streets. Currently, the organization is working closely with 10 women to greatly improve their lives and teach them essential life skills. The organization is now run by a dedicated group of students in Ghana and abroad. NerdWallet applauds ABAN’s staff for all the time they spend enriching the lives of young women.