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Our History

Our History

Founded in 1994 by Ted Madara, Change for Kids began with the simple idea that investing small “change” in under-resourced classrooms could make an outsized difference in children’s education.

In the organization’s early years, CFK was primarily focused on providing necessary supplies to elementary schools in high needs NYC neighborhoods. We collaborated with P.S. 243 in Brooklyn; C.E.S. 73 in the Bronx; P.S. 160 in Queens; and P.S. 154 in Harlem--impacting 4 of the 5 boroughs from the very beginning. As CFK grew, our model shifted from not only providing supplies and resources, but also enrichment programs and human capital through our robust volunteer program.

In 2009, under former Executive Director Colin Smith, CFK launched its innovative Change Team Model. CFK School Managers were matched with a designated school partner and collaborated with school leadership, staff, and community members to conduct an individualized needs assessment and unique program plan. Through a combination of financial capital, human capital, and programming, CFK sought to close the opportunity gaps our partner schools faced.

By 2013, CFK increased revenue by 500% and grew to serve over 3,000 NYC public school students. In 2018, with the partnership with P.S. 21 in Staten Island, CFK officially expanded its reach to all 5 NYC boroughs! In 2019, Kevin Ervin joined as Executive Director, bringing his visionary passion and maverick leadership to revolutionize the future of our organization. Not only did the organization celebrate the incredible milestone of its 25th anniversary that year, the organization updated its mission and vision and embarked on a clear, compelling journey to address the systemic inequities our students continue to face.

In 2020, CFK continued embracing its values of responsiveness, imagination, and resiliency, and was among the first youth development organizations to launch a full-service digital platform in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Free and open to the public, CFK l Digital has reached kids in all 50 states and Canada via innovative, virtual educational and enrichment programming. Continuing to meet the ever-changing needs of our communities, CFK opened a South Bronx Youth Engagement Center in 2021.

We are embarking on an exciting journey. Learn more about our vision and what is to come here.


CFK Through the Years