Who is Helping the Kids Left Behind?

America now has 1,571,056 tax-exempt organizations, of which 1,097,689 are public charities, according to Urban Institute. [A]nother 105,030 […] are private foundations, and 368,337 are […] chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues.

Nonprofits accounted for 9.2% of all wages and salaries [last year], 5.3% of U.S. GDP [and reported] $1.74 trillion in revenues. [Approximately] 25.3% of Americans over the age of 16 volunteered for a nonprofit organization [in 2015], [and our nation’s total] volunteer time translates to 8.7 billion hours, which has a value of $179.2 billion.

All of these are big numbers, [s]o why do we still have so many Americans struggling to get by each day? […]

In New York City, there are 23,000 children between the ages of six and 13 [who] live in the city’s homeless […] shelter system. As we all know, homelessness places profound stress on a child’s life. [One] nonprofit, Homes for the Homeless, […] provide[s] a 16-day summer camp at […] Harriman State Park, […] 30 miles outside of NYC, for […] inner-city kids, [many of whom] have never left [the city, let alone] experienced nature up close. It gives these homeless children a chance to escape the stresses of everyday life and engage in healthy activities. What if every town had a program like this?

[In] Cleveland, [which] has a 58.5% poverty rate for children (compared to the national average of 21.1%), [t]he Footpath Foundation was founded by two mothers to help underprivileged and at-risk children by connecting them with positive life experiences. Like [in] NYC, these Cleveland kids are sent to local camps that temporarily help them let go of the pressures of life and begin to feel safe and at peace. […]

When schools close, millions of youths are cut off from access to education and nutritional support systems. This leads to [a] “slide,” [with] students [losing] educational achievements made during the previous year. In 2015, 46% of [students] who applied for summer jobs were turned down, so helping out our youth this summer is crucial.

[The White House has taken notice, and they’ve stepped in with several new initiatives.] The Department of Education [has issued] a grant […] to open five new achievement centers [to house] mentoring program[s] for underserved middle-school students [in Baltimore, Md.; Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh, Penn.; and Richmond, Va.] The Corporation for National and Community Service [has] committed $15 million to launch Summer Opportunity AmeriCorps, which uses service-learning projects [to enable] 20,000 youth to gain new skills and earn money for college. The Department of Labor, [meanwhile], launched a $20 million grant competition [that provided] young people [in 10 communities] summer and year-round jobs connecting them to career pathways.

Cities are [also] stepping up to help. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a [plan] to hire 15,000 young people in 2016 through his Hire LA Youth program. This program targets youth from low-income families, families on public assistance, foster youth, youth on probation and homeless youth. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray committed to reach out to 15,000 youth in his community with summer jobs and enrichment. The city will also serve 5,000 children over 200,000 meals and invest in 23 summer learning programs. In Charlotte, Mayor Jennifer Roberts, in a partnership with the Microsoft Charlotte Campus, is holding high-tech camps for 4,000 underprivileged kids. What is your city doing?

[At the national level, Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization, serving hundreds of thousands of six- to 18-year-old kids. The Boys & Girls Club serves four million young people in 4,100 clubs throughout the country. […] The Children’s Defense Fund was formed to leave no child behind and works [to give] every child […] a healthy start [in life]. Southwest Key is [another] national nonprofit organization that is committed to keeping kids out of institutions and home with their families in their communities. […]

As much as our government and our cities are reaching out to pull the less-fortunate kids up, they are only affecting a small portion of those who need our help. We […] have a vibrant nonprofit system in place to begin to help those children in the most need, [b]ut these nonprofits need our help both financially and as volunteers. Giving is as good for your own soul as it is for the people you help. If you don’t have the cash, do what 25% of Americans do: volunteer to help a nonprofit that helps our youth. Giving your time or giving your hard-earned dollars [has] a rippling effect in our society; [a] single act of kindness can change several lives while helping to reduce the daunting statistics that [are] poverty and lost opportunity in this country.

Original article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-joseph/who-is-helping-the-kids-l_b_10818040.html

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