Ronald McDonald Grant Doesn’t Clown Around With Kids Health

The Ronald McDonald House Charities try to improve the health and well being of children directly. The charity takes a holistic, family-centered approach to helping bring kids care. The Ronald McDonald House Charity hopes to partner with organizations that take an innovative approach to addressing the health needs of the population of kids. The deadline for this grant is November 13, 2011.

$50,000 to Bring Technology to the Classroom

The Entertainment Software Association Foundation awards grants up to $50,000 to provide programs and services utilizing computer or video game software to educate students between the ages of 7 and 18.

To be eligible:

- Must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
- Seek funding for a project that will be implemented nation-wide, or at least in two or more states.
- Serve youth between the ages of 7 and 18.
- Provide programs or services that utilize technology to educate.

Applications are accepted year round, but must be in by May 15 to be considered for the following academic calendar year.

Best Buy Helps Give Best to Kids

The Best Buy Children’s Foundation is offering the @15 Community Grants Program. This grant enables teens to thrive by helping them excel in school, engage in communities and develop life and leadership skills. The Foundation offers a number of grants ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to nonprofits that serve kids between the ages of 13-18. The deadline to apply for this grant is August 1, 2011.

Start Strong Innovations — A Photo Gallery

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Eleven Start Strong community projects have been up and running now for nearly two years. At a May 3-4 meeting in Atlanta, members got to share with each other the most innovative and effective programs they’ve come up with to help middle school students learn about healthy relationships and how to avoid potentially violent ones. We wrote about that meeting and the Start Strong national initiative on May 6.


But here’s a look at six innovative programs, all developed at the local level, that we found particularly interesting.


Keep It Strong song and dance

“Middle school teens love interaction, as well as entertainment, but they also value learning from older teens,” writes Jacqueline Davis of Start Strong Atlanta. At the 7th grade classes they visit, Start Strong Atlanta Youth Leaders perform “Keep it Strong” songs and dances, as well as a teen dating violence prevention play. Then, they lead Q&A sessions. “Our youth leaders are very creative and enjoy remixing songs by favorite artists to create positive messages about building healthy relationships. They also recite poetry, spoken word and monologues (all created by them) with various messages — qualities of healthy relationships, signs of abusive behavior/unhealthy relationships, etc. tips on helping others, etc. We have several teens who are great song/poetry writers so they usually create the lyrics ... . In the songs, the messages are positive, easy to sing along, and provide an avenue to get the younger teens involved so that they will remember the messages.  Other teens work on creating dance routines to the songs, and then they practice for performances.  The youth leaders always get the middle school students to participate and they thoroughly enjoy it.”


Sound Relationships Nutritional Musical Labels

“Music, like food, can feed our brains and give us energy,” says Casey Corcoran, director of Start Strong Boston. “But songs can affect our health and the health of our relationships.” So high school “peer leaders” in Boston came up with a novel tool. The Sound Relationships Nutritional Label helps music lovers evaluate how healthy – or unhealthy – songs are. Middle school students, as well as other listeners, can tally the number of healthy relationship themes present in a song, as well as such unhealthy relationship themes as possession, disrespect and manipulation. Then, other listeners can use the labels as guides. “It’s important to have youth involved in this effort because teenagers are the main audience of the music,” says peer leader Shaquilla Terry, age 15, of Boston. “It’s important to actually listen to and think about the lyrics of a song and not just the beat.”


The Break-Up Summit

Start Strong Boston also came up with the “Break-Up Summit,” which probably has gotten more media attention than any Start Strong initiative yet. The theme of the first summit was “Face It, Don’t Facebook It” — the point being that impersonal or public messages sent via social media, texting or e-mail are among the worst ways to break up. Some 200 teenagers came to that July 2010 event. Now, Start Strong is working on ways to replicate the Break-Up Summit through other Start Strong groups nationwide.


Hkup with Respect

Start Strong Rhode Island’s Hkup With Respect appears to be the most robust of several social media apps developed by the 11 Start Strong programs. It gives teens and preteens a place to tell their stories — in 140 characters or fewer, of course — and then for others to rate those stores “Cool,” “Not Cool,” or “Not Sure.” The slickly designed site also allows users to post videos and participate in text polls. “We believe that the more people think and talk about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, the better they can be at protecting themselves and their friends from digital and dating abuse,” says an About Us page. Hkup seems to be striking up a chord: More than 1,100 people “Like” it on Facebook, and the catchy name has helped Start Strong Rhode Island launch other products, including ...


Drama Decoder

Hkup with Respect’s “Drama Decoder” has a geeky, old-school-style appeal. It’s a cardboard slide ruler that can be whipped out in a fun way in the middle of conversation -- or even during a date -- to get kids to talk about what’s “Cool” or “Not cool,” in their interactions.


Love What’s Real writing contest

Start Strong Idaho may seem to have gone even more old-school last fall with a writing contest that culminated in their publication of an anthology of junior high and middle school students’ poems and essays. But the truth is, creative writing still engages kids — at least kids in Idaho and certainly when it comes to a topic that interests them. More than 1,000 teens, aged 11-14 submitted their work for the contest. According to Kelly Miller of Start Strong Idaho, the “Love What’s Real” book was “printed and distributed during February, National Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month (along with a study guide) to all middle schools and public libraries as well as to the winning authors and their English teachers.” Will the organization hold a contest again? “Absolutely!” Miller answers.



Helping Kids Achieve in Acworth

The City of Acworth, GA.,  is supporting a program called the Acworth Achievers. Five years ago, Acworth identified a concern about at-risk kids within the city limits and began developing a program. The goal of this program is to help middle and high school children make better decisions through after-school and mentoring programs.

“This will offer more opportunities and give kids better decision making skills so they can become productive adults,” Frank White, the Director of Acworth Achievers and the Recreation Coordinator for Acworth Parks and Recreation said.

“It’s about inspiring kids to be the very best that they can be,” Mayor Tommy Allegood said.

Click below to hear more from Mayor Allegood about the Acworth Achievers.

Financial backing from multiple donors made the program possible.

Acworth partnered with local schools, including Barber Middle School and North Cobb High School, to start bringing kids into the program. Counselors at both schools were able to identify the kids who would benefit the most from the program and made recommendations.

Some of the things the counselors look at, according to Barber Middle School Counselor Jeannie Collins, are test scores, proximity to the Roberts School Community Center, knowledge of the child's family situation, and some at-risk behaviors.

The Counselors talk with parents and children who may be struggling. They also ask the children how they can help them improve. Collins often lets a kid lead her to this conclusion.

“Many of the children that go into the Acworth Achievers want to do the right thing but may be surrounded by peers who do not, or might be around parents who are not there to guide them. These are students who are hungry for a positive adult relationship outside of their parents or teachers who can help them when they need someone,” Collins explains.

Consistently there are 35 students in the program and 3 mentors. NorthStar Church also sends volunteers to help mentor the students.

The Acworth Achievers meet every day after school and during the summer at the Roberts School Community Center. It is centrally located in an area where most at-risk kids live within the city limits. This provides  students with a safe environment for after-school tutoring, service learning opportunities and it gives them exposure to positive role models.

Although the group is relatively new, the first two students to complete the program and graduate from high school went on to higher education. The Acworth Achievers also helped the City of Acworth win “The All America City Award,” a prestigious award that recognizes cities that solve community problems.

“Anyone willing to contribute or who wants to start their own program, we are more than willing to help get them started and more than willing to partner up with them.” White said.

The best way to get involved with the Acworth Achievers is by volunteering. They are always looking for tutors, mentors, or anyone who wants to encourage kids. For more information contact Frank White at