The odds are stacked against youth who grow up in foster care.
Only 51 percent graduate from high school.
Even fewer – less than 11 percent – go on to college.
Yet, for these same children, “education is the key” to changing their life, says Eric Schulz, Realities for Children Boulder County founder and executive director.
That’s why Schulz founded Realities for Children Boulder County.
And it’s the number one reason most business members jump on board this amped-up cause-marketing organization: to change the life of a child.
The number two reason? To boost their business success at the same time.
The way it works is simple. And powerful.
Business members are the engine that drives Realities for Children Boulder County.
In return for membership dues, Schulz and his staff promote the business members through networking and outreach events, a membership directory, a newly revamped newsletter that will be distributed to about 10,000 households quarterly, a webpage, and social media activity.
Members attend networking events with other members, generating connections, friendships with other heart-forward businesses, and become customers of each other spurred on by exclusive discounts.
In turn, 50 percent of member dues underwrite the many charitable activities for abused, neglected and at-risk youth – many of whom have been removed from their family home and spent time in foster or kinship care.
“Businesses are uniquely positioned to help a deserving child get an education and have a chance for a successful life. And they make a direct impact by helping to direct the future of the organization,” says Schulz.
It’s a perfect fit for the ethical and cause-oriented consumers in Boulder County.
So far there are about 60 members of RFCBC with a goal of growing membership to 150 this year. Members include Boulder County businesses like Mighty Fudge Studio, which is designing and publishing the RFCBC newsletter; and Heath Images and Bhakti Chai, which sponsor 4-year full-ride CU-Boulder Guardian Scholarships. Elevations Credit Union plans to sponsor a scholarship in 2016.
“Health Images has always tried to do the right things for the right reasons. When I met Eric [Schulz], it seemed that was exactly his vision…and you see great success,” says LeAnn DiLorenzo, marketing director for Health Images.
“The more business members we have, the more youth we can serve,” says Schulz. This year Schulz will have a summit of business members to explore how to better the RFCBC system.
“I’ve spent my career serving disadvantaged youth of Boulder County,” says Schulz. “I’ve learned that the best intervention is prevention through education, vocational support and collaboration among non-profit service agencies.”
Realities for Children Boulder County – in collaboration with Boulder County businesses – provide that and a great deal more through the programs listed below.
Started 11 years ago, the Hero Awards luncheon recognizes service professionals in the community in front of a crowd of about 300. Several years ago, Schulz began awarding scholarships to students, starting with a $1,000 award for one year. Since then, the number and amount of scholarships have grown dramatically. This year four youths in Boulder County will receive $450,000 to attend CU-Boulder on full-ride scholarships through the University of Colorado Guardian Scholars Program. Additional scholarships will be given to Triumph Scholars, awarding tuition monies to up to 10 youths.
Pigs for Kids – Every Cent Changes a Life
Businesses, classrooms or individuals adopt pigs and fill them with loose change in donation to help Realities for Children Boulder County change a life. Sponsors can adopt a pig that’s already decorated or decorate their own. Pigs for Kids can be spotted all over Boulder County, including the RE/MAX of Boulder office on Canyon Boulevard.
Bikes for Tykes
Polaris House started as a group home for 12- to 16-year-old boys. Located on Orchard Avenue in North Boulder, today Polaris House is a place for up to five at-risk college students to live affordably. Rent is based on grades – the better the student’s grades, the lower their rent.
Bright Futures Conference for Vocational Training
This March, up to 200 youth will participate in the first annual vocational training conference. Through Ted Talk-style presentations, youth will be inspired to think about their future, from maintaining grades good enough to earn a college scholarship to considering vocational training as an educational pathway. Experts will also talk about how to travel the world inexpensively.
This month, we’re honored to present Realities for Children Boulder County as the Boulder Source Featured Friend. For more information, please read our first two articles in this series: “How to Change a Life” and “Making All the Difference.”
How You Can Help
Become a business member – this year’s goal is to grow from 60 to 150 members
Business members are needed to grow the organization and serve more youth.
Volunteers are needed to help with bike fix-up, decorate pigs, join boards and committees. To volunteer go to the Realities for Children Boulder County and send an email.
Scholarship sponsors are needed to send more deserving youth to college or vocational training.
Images courtesy of Realities for Children Boulder County.