P.S. 81 Students Discover the Wonders of Skype

For the 19 fourth and fifth grade students he met in November, Chef Abraham Salum’s visit was a highlight of the year.  Whipping together basic ingredients such as fruit, yogurt and cookies into tasty bites, he got everyone involved in a fun, hands-on cooking lesson. Students left excited to try making their own snacks at home, and with new ideas about what it’s like to be a professional chef.

Chef Salum with students at P.S. 81

Chef Salum, who visited initially to meet the kids he would be representing at the Super Chefs event, was equally taken with the P.S. 81 students. He was eager  to continue his relationship with them and collaborated with P.S. 81 staff to find a way to return. Later this month he will be back…virtually, via Skype.

Chefs Maneet Chauhan and Salum at Super Chefs on November 14

In his next lesson, Salum will teach students about cooking from recipes. In addition, Salum is also preparing special packages for each of the 19 students he’s worked with to keep them cooking after the lesson is over. Teachers will surprise students with the gifts during the Skype session.

Communicating through Skype will expose students to a 21st century technology they are largely unfamiliar with. Experience with new technology is a key focus of P.S. 81′s curricular goals, and engaging with Chef Salum via Skype makes real and personal an otherwise abstract tool.

“In our school population, it is very rare that our children interact personally with professionals such as Chef Salum,” said Ms. Jackson, lead teacher with Salum’s group of students. “His visit opened up a window of possibilities for them that they may have never considered.  And an opportunity to Skype with him, brings a level of exposure that is often taken for granted because for many of us it is the norm. However, for these children, technology and practiicing 21st century skillls is a privilege.”

Another focus of the P.S. 81 curriculum is listening comprehension. Seeing a fun way to get students to practice their listening skills, teachers have asked Chef Salum to read a recipe aloud at the end of his lesson. Students will then write down the recipe and whoever’s copy is the most accurate will receive the recipe’s ingredients so that he or she may cook the dish at home.

A signed Chef Salum recipe

Our tremendous thanks to Chef Salum for helping to bring these essential lessons in technology, listening and cooking to life for the students at P.S. 81. In all ways, we know it will be a hit with these young Chef Salum fans.


Super Chefs: a New Event Becomes an Instant Classic

This year was the inaugural Super Chefs event, and a step in a completely different direction from Bowl for Kids. But by the end of the evening,  it was clear to everyone that we would have to do Super Chefs again next year…and the year after that. It was a huge success!
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The super chefs themselves created mouth-watering tastings to please a crowd of 400. Chef Chris Santos prepared pork belly B.L.T. tacos; chef Maneet Chauhan prepared moong daal chaat in semolina puffs with mint cilantro water; chef Gabe Thompson prepared pork meatballs with polenta, bacon, tomato and Parmesan; chef Abraham Salum prepared Guajillo chile, wild mushroom and Oaxaca cheese tamales with braised chicken and Komali’s finger salsa tamale; and chef Vincent Chirico prepared a hamachi and yellowfin tuna duo with preserved ginger sauce and avocado.

Chef Maneet Chauhan (right) and a guest

Board Member Louise Phillips Forbes and Chef Vincent Chirico

Chef Gabe Thompson with Development Manager Alex Robinson (left) and Board Member Natalie Auerbach (right)

From a campaign that raised more than $250,000, to chefs who are eager to  stay involved with their partner schools, Super Chefs was a remarkable–and fun–experience. And we think, by looking at these photos, you can see that on every face.





Want to see more? Click here. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Super Chefs campaign and event!


Chef Salum and P.S. 81 Play with Their Food

On Thursday, November 7, the Fan4Kids students at P.S. 81 had a special visitor: Super Chef Abraham Salum! Before he flexes his culinary muscle at our benefit on the 14th, he got to know the kids he’s supporting.

Salum transforms Nilla wafers into a tasty masterpiece

Armed with a selection of ingredients chosen by our students, including cream cheese, Nutella, banana, cucumbers and yogurt, Chef Salum taught them to “play with their food,” in other words, to experiment with taste and presentation, because that’s where the real fun in cooking and eating lies. One brave student volunteered to be a guinea pig for the class: Cream cheese – who knew it was so good? Cucumbers and Nutella – not such a good idea.

The beginning of a healthy snack

Chef Salum was a natural teacher, and gathered the 20 or so fourth graders, parents, teachers and on-lookers around him to watch him work his magic. Then, to make sure everyone got a taste, he broke everyone into teams. Working with the ingredients at hand, which also included strawberries and Nilla wafers, the students whipped up their own dishes. Each group had their own unique spin on taste and presentation, and a healthy snack to eat at the end of the class.

Hands-on learning students can take home

“The visit to the school was fantastic!” Chef Salum wrote to us. Now, he’s gearing up for Super Chefs, where you can meet him  and share your love of P.S. 81 and good food in person!

Chef Salum


Running for Change

Our runners couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to run the ING New York City Marathon on November 3—cool temperatures, partly sunny, not too much wind. We couldn’t have asked for a better team, some of whom have been holding out since last year to run for Change for Kids. Our thanks to Maureen Ford, Pat Daly, Suraj Patel, Viral Patel, Courtney Raneri, Brad Zanoni, Ken Davidoff and Alex Porter. Together, these athletes have raised more than $25,000 for the students in our partner schools.


Maureen Ford, showing us how it’s done at mile 17

Two of our runners, Junior Council members Courtney and Alex, made a trip to P.S. 73 before the race to participate in a Fan4Kids class. “With two and a half weeks left before the big day, this morning really empowered Alex and myself to continue to strive ahead in terms of fundraising and spirit but also made the goal of CFK more tangible,” Courtney wrote in an email following her visit.

Courtney Raneri and friends at P.S. 73

Alex shared that “after meeting the kids, teachers, and instructors, I am truly so proud to be raising money to help support Fan4Kids….The CFK influence is profound and felt throughout the entire school.”

Marathon Visit

P.S. 73′s future marathoners

At the end of their run, several teammates toasted their triumph.  As you can see, they make running 26.2 miles and raising $25k look easy!

Two medalists, Courtney Raneri and Brad Zanoni


A New Video for CFK, Starring P.S. 15

A young artist describes her cape to the film crew

With Super Chefs only a week away (buy your tickets here), we thought you might like to meet the stars of the new CFK video. They’re tiny, but they pack a wallop of on-screen power as writers, artists, and budding literati.

Our film crew visited Story Pirates, an art class and tutoring sessions. In interviews with students, teachers, staff, as well as our own Executive Director, Colin Smith, and Principal Irene Sanchez, we captured CFK’s impact.

A character in development in Story Pirates

One 2nd grade student, Nancy, who immigrated to New York from Sudan, described reading in class when she first arrived as “too distracting, it was hard to concentrate.”  Working with her CFK tutor this year, she has been able to grow as a reader, and now she loves reading in class, as well as taking books home from the library to read on her own. “My parents are proud of me,” she said.

Edited together, the footage will not only tell P.S. 15′s story, but also the larger story of the difference Change for Kids is making in New York City public elementary schools.

Hero poses for the final shots

Our thanks to Margie Millero and Leslie Long at Saatchi & Saatchi for managing our shoot and penning our script; our producer, Olivia Newman, and Laurie Thomas, our Director from Think/Feel; Axsel Stasny, our Director of Photography for the day; and our editor, Chris Denniston, over at HBO. We know you are going to love what you see on November 14!


Gannett Makes the Difference

Five floors. Hidden stairwells. Secret offices. Endless hallways. Built in the early twentieth century for a student body well over a thousand, PS 73 is a seemingly overwhelming challenge for even the most seasoned beautification day volunteer.

Unless you are talking about the 50 amazing volunteers from Gannett, supercharged with the will to give back and a full Saturday to spare. On October 26, Make a Difference Day, Gannett’s NYC office mobilized a team to paint and restore murals; repaint the school’s entryway, the CFK office, and a set of swinging doors; clean trash out of the music room; and clear and reorganize two closets, each as big as small apartments.

A new mural in the works

“To have people like you who are willing to come in from the outside…to really help us and support us, you get emotional to see all of you guys here doing all these things—it’s wonderful,” said Ms. Perez, a teacher at P.S. 73.

The new mural on the fifth floor brought beloved characters from children’s books and stories to life—Nemo, Horton the elephant, Ariel the Little Mermaid, Olivia the Pig, Thing 1 and Thing 2—against a wonderland backdrop of castles and forest and sea.

Dr. Suess’s Thing 1 and Thing 2 in progress

Mural restoration brought vibrant color back into other important pieces and touched up scratches everywhere, including Clifford’s nose. One team transformed the school’s vestibule with bright blue and yellow paint.

A young restorer

“Just anticipating our children coming back on Monday into the school—I cannot wait to see their faces. In simple terms: Thank you for beautifying our school, not just for our children, but also for our community,” said Assistant Principal Abreu.

Our closet ninjas unpacked, sorted, organized and repacked a closet in such a short amount of time we had to find them another closet to attack.

Piles and piles and piles of supplies

Other volunteers headed to the CFK office to rehab dreary walls, and a family of four took on a gray set of swinging doors, turning them into a cheery aqua that Principal Vivian Bueno now wants to use throughout the school.

The Safran family takes on a set of double doors

“All the research that’s out there says that the principal cannot do it alone. The teachers cannot do it alone,” Principal Bueno told the volunteers at lunch. “This is why we welcome Change for Kids, because we know that having a partnership in this building is going to benefit the children.”

Many thanks to Gannett for everything they did on October 26 for P.S.73! Check out more photos from throughout the day here. And here are two photos of the new mural you should go see in person at P.S. 73!


Celebrity Sightings: Education Style

Set your DVR’s! TED Talks Education will premiere May 7th at 10/9 CST on PBS.


Take it from someone who was sitting front row center during the taping, this is something you don’t want to miss. The CFK team was offered tickets based on our participation in last fall’s WNYC broadcast of American Graduate, and we couldn’t agree more with the sentiments shared throughout the day.

“Re-imagining education is the key to a more hopeful future”  - TED and TED Talks Education curator Chris Anderson.

“America’s local public media stations share a deep commitment to educational achievement for all students.  We know that completing high school is a significant step with lifelong impact for the student, his family and the community, ‘TED Talks Education’ brings together thought leaders who know how we can engage, teach and inspire a generation born digital and identify the paths to their school success.” - Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB.

My favorite highlights? All-star teachers Pearl Arredondo and Rita Pierson reignited everyone’s passion for teaching. Bill Gates (yes, the Bill Gates) introduced a teacher evaluation system that builds teacher confidence strengthening every aspect of the classroom experience, while providing administrators with the data they desire. Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada rallied the crowd with his straight forward answers for how we can close the achievement gap. And (my personal crush) Sir Ken Robinson closed the program with an incredibly moving call to action: Our job as educators is to ignite curiosity and creativity, for with those two things actively in place, children will naturally soar.

Tune in next week, and join the national conversation on what we can all be doing to ensure our kids are prepared for the future!

Watch TED Talks Education Preview on PBS. See more from TED Talks Education.

The Inaugural “Holiday Wish” Coloring Contest

P.S. 73 Winner Bernie Marte with his 4th grade teacher Ms. Reynoso

I’ve been very lucky to not only intern in the CFK office, but to oversee our Brooklyn Tech tutoring program at partner school P.S. 243 in Crown Heights. Brooklyn Tech’s Change Club travels to the Weeksville School every Thursday to provide homework help to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. I get the pleasure of working specifically with a vibrant bunch of 3rd graders and their tutors.

One of my favorite Thursdays was spent helping them visualize and draw their “Holiday Wish.” This season, CFK created a festival coloring contest – the winning image from each school would be featured on our inaugural holiday cards. When I told my students that they would get to draw during their tutoring session, I was met with great enthusiasm.

P.S. 243 Purple Snow-girl

I had great fun observing the students eagerly brainstorming with their tutors. I circled the tables, landing first at Angel’s table. He proudly reviewed his masterpiece with me, “This is my family at our Christmas meal, and that’s my grandpa. I have a big Dominican family.” Over at Nubia and Maya’s table, the best friends were also drawing family scenes, along with elaborate holiday presents. At Anthony and Elvin’s table, they were having their own coloring contest of who could draw the better picture. While Anthony drew a towering electric blue building, Elvin was drawing an impressive Christmas tree with Santa approaching in his sleigh. I spy an artist in the making here. Finally, my personal favorite was Elena’s drawing of a “Purple Snow-girl.” So I have to admit I’m a bit partial to purple, it’s my favorite color. But regardless, who doesn’t like a nice twist on a classic holiday character? As always, I left P.S. 243 with a smile that day.

The holiday coloring contest was an excellent way to begin the new season at our schools. I hope all the kids had as much fun participating as the office did in going through the entries. It was a great way to see quick snapshots of the students through their holiday wishes and their artistic talents. Congratulations to all the winners. Pick up your pack today!100% of proceeds benefit our programs.


P.S. 243 Artist: Brittany Kennedy, Ms. Davis’ 4th Grade, Age 8
P.S. 15 Artist: Steven Ponce, Mr. Laliberte’s 3rd Grade, Age 8
P.S. 73 Artist: Bernie Marte, Ms. Reynoso’s 4th Grade, Age 10
P.S. 81 Artist: Rogelio Vargas, Ms. Fraser’s 2nd Grade, Age 7
P.S. 160 Artist: Sharon Sukhu, Ms. Reill’s 4th Grade, Age 10

We shopped ’til we dropped… hey, it’s all for the kids!

If you’re anything like us in the Change for Kids office, then you’re a sucker for good deals. And on Tuesday, May 1st, there were plenty to be found at CFK’s Spring Shopping Soirée. We shopped ’til we dropped (guilt-free!), knowing that a portion of the proceeds went to benefit our partner elementary schools.

The Shop for Kids event featured fine jewels and lace from two of the city’s most fashionable ladies. Alexis Chasman, Stylist Extraordinaire, brightened up our wardrobes with affordable, exciting jewelry; while Margaret Shrum, NYC Lingerie Expert, spotlighted items from several up-and-coming Manhattan lingerie designers.

Joining the women last minute were Douglas and Kenneth Forbes (sons of CFK Chairman and Board Member, Chris and Louise Forbes), who outfitted us with the latest colors in CFK Change Bracelets. When Kenneth learned about the event from his mother morning-of, his first thought was: “Well, I like CFK. Why can’t I come?” So he grabbed his older brother, Douglas, and set up shop, raising $110 over the course of the night.

Check out the photos below to see more from the event. A big thank you to Alexis, Margaret, Douglas and Kenneth for helping to make our Spring Shopping Soirée a success! Missed out on this event? Well don’t let it happen again, ha – sign up to stay in touch.

The Penguin Party Sells Out: 27 Hours, 500 Tickets, 1 Incredible Cause

I have very recently become hooked on TLC’s non-award winning series, Toddlers & Tiaras. My overall impression of the show’s subjects is that they’re all off their rockers; but after watching enough episodes, I have come to realize that the pageant moms and their children are mainly acting on one of life’s simple truths: everyone likes to dress up and look good.

CFK Penguin Party FundraiserThis could not have been more evident than when The Penguin Party, CFK Junior Council’s inaugural black tie event, sold out in 27 hours. On Friday, February 24th, 500 young, affluent professionals and budding NYC socialites will gather together at the Bowery Hotel to support two CFK partner elementary schools – P.S. 243 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and P.S. 73 in the South Bronx.  We are so grateful for the evening’s sponsors: Jefferson’s Bourbon, Sugarleaf Vineyards, and Andrew Kaftan Photography.

If you were lucky enough to snag a ticket to this season’s most exclusive gathering and are in need of dapper suit, you might also want to check out what our good friends over at Alton Lane are up to. They’re supporting CFK with generous donations for the entire month of February. If you’ve been waiting for the perfect excuse to splurge on a little formal wear, you have it. Just mention the code “Change” during your appointment, and they’ll send $100 our way.

In terms of ticket sales The Penguin Party is by far the most successful event our Junior Council has thrown to date, even with a ticket price close to triple digits. The evening will feature a full open bar, live music by the East Coast Band, and tons of dancing. Junior Council Co-Chair, Andrew Maxwell, states, “I am excited about the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve received to The Penguin Party. I think it’ll be a fun night filled with philanthropy and friends, and it will serve as an awesome introduction to the organization for those first-time CFK- event attendees. We could potentially recruit some great new members to serve on the Junior Council.”

We’re looking forward to partying with the penguins!  Thank you to our generous sponsors: