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Aaron's Presents Inc.

 180 Main Street
 Andover, MA 01810
[P] (978) 809-5487
[F] --
www.aaronspresents.org
[email protected]
Leah Okimoto
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INCORPORATED: 2014
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 46-4010444

LAST UPDATED: 12/04/2018
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

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Mission StatementMORE »

Inspiring kids to give of themselves for the good of the world.

Mission Statement

Inspiring kids to give of themselves for the good of the world.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2018 to June 30, 2019
Projected Income $175,000.00
Projected Expense $181,698.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Agents of Change
  • Givers and Visionaries

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown (%)

No data available

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

Inspiring kids to give of themselves for the good of the world.

Background Statement

Aaron’s Presents was inspired by Aaron Makaio Schneider (June 19-27, 2013) to honor his short but powerful life. Aaron’s mother, Founder and Executive Director Leah Okimoto, has developed an innovative, evidence-model based on the belief that every human being, and therefore EVERY child, has something unique and valuable to contribute to the world. Our approach to positive youth development, volunteerism and civic engagement is accessible, child-initiated, age-appropriate and non-competitive.
 
Since 2014, the Aaron’s Presents model has inspired 844 children in the Merrimack Valley and North Shore regions, with 66% from economically disadvantaged cities of Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn (72% children of color), and their 446 ideas have helped over 30,000 people and animals. Children from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and a wide range of achievement and skill levels have experienced the sense of purpose, self-worth and joy that come from making an impact outside themselves. Aaron’s Presents is also changing the way that society approaches volunteering--not as an obligation or box to be checked, but rather as a lifelong mindset of participating in society and contributing in ways that match each of our unique personalities and life experiences. 
 
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." So how powerful is it when kids teach other kids to fish? This past year, Raychel, a 6th grader from Lawrence, did just that when she created an Adventure Club at her after-school program and collaborated with an adult volunteer to help teach some of her peers how to fish, geocache, hike and camp in New Hampshire. Imagine a day when 2,000 children from Lawrence or Lowell are doing positive projects in their community every year--the entire community would be uplifted and revitalized by its youngest members!

Impact Statement

Accomplishments: 
- Expanded and increased success in grant awards; received Cummings $100K for 100 grant for 2017-21.
- Mentored 844 children ages 7-14 who completed 446 projects that impacted more than 31,000 individuals and animals within their communities; additionally, mentored and provided skill building opportunities, camps and internships for 145 Alumni in 2017-18.
- Completed our first quantitative impact assessment.  Post project surveys reveal that participants have been positively affected in the "6 C's" of Positive Youth Development: - Competence, Confidence, Character, Caring, Connection and Contribution.
 
Goals:
- Continue strengthening and stabilizing our program partnerships; work with 450 children ages 7-14 to complete 160 projects, and engage 200 Alumni.
- Continue to expand our Mentor staff and implement systems for training, supervising and mentoring them more consistently.
- Complete a high-level strategic plan (in process) that will guide Aaron's Presents activities and growth over the next 3-5 years. 
- Continue board development, recruitment and training efforts and expand development plan; build/deepen relationships with new and existing funders.
- Launch our first $250K #WhatCanIGive growth campaign to build for the future. 

Needs Statement

Completion of the 5+ Year Strategic Plan (in process)
Completion of Impact Assessment Plan and Tools (in process)
Funding for 2-4 Part-Time Mentors $20-40K.
Part-time Development Professional $25K.
Sufficient income to pay Executive Director/Founder a full-time wage $50,000. 
Funding for more new Mentors and a full-time Program Director to decrease mentoring and direct programmatic responsibilities of Executive Director to allow her to focus on Impact and expanding our Donor base, especially Corporate and Foundations.

CEO Statement

We at Aaron's Presents are zealots about allowing youth to learn, develop empathy and find purpose through real-life, active experiences in the larger community and world, interacting with real people and people different from them. We believe that the way to achieve these outcomes is by asking them to focus outward, on others, and on giving and contributing. A core belief driving all of our practices and programming is that positive empowerment and positive youth development are universal human needs. Aaron's Presents focuses heavily in high-need cities as we recognize the enormous opportunity gap facing economically disadvantaged children. Last year, 66% of our participants (74% female and 26% male) came from first generation immigrant families of color residing in the cities of Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn, which consistently have some of the highest poverty, lowest graduation and highest ELL learner rates in the state. One of Aaron's Presents primary goals is to provide a way for kids who often see themselves as "takers" of services, to instead see themselves as "givers, visionaries and agents of change." It is this paradigm shift that is paramount to creating a new generation of independent adults and community leaders. To our knowledge, there is no organization like Aaron’s Presents with a similar approach and model that is accessible to any child with a desire to connect and contribute to the larger community. National-level programs do reach many youth, but largely from a more privileged, homogeneous demographic, because they are competitive, provide no individual mentoring, assume access to technology, require adult support provided by applicants, and are largely focused on high school-aged youth. All of these elements greatly disadvantage or disqualify younger children, and especially low-income children. They also do not provide a way for children to engage in ways that seem simple to adults, such as volunteering at a local animal shelter or visiting seniors in a nursing home. These experiences are extremely powerful and memorable for children, especially those with no prior volunteer experience, but for many, would never happen without the logistical support that our model provides.

Board Chair Statement

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Geographic Area Served

NORTHEAST REGION, MA

Merrimack Valley: Lawrence, Lowell, Andover
North Shore: Lynn, Danvers and Peabody

Organization Categories

  1. Youth Development - Youth Community Service Clubs
  2. Public & Societal Benefit -
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Under Development

Programs

Agents of Change

As our Givers and Visionaries progress toward and enter high school, they can become involved with our Agents of Change program, which seeks to provide a variety of opportunities and connections to professionals, college and job readiness activities, summer programs, internships and volunteer activities, specifically targeting our highest need Alumni. After helping them experience firsthand their ability to make an impact in the world, our subsequent message to them is that the more they develop themselves, the bigger and deeper that impact can be. We want to support them in this next stage of life, because we know it is very easy to lose focus on connecting and giving to others as responsibilities, distractions and stress increase, yet these are the very things that research is showing can help nurture resilience and grit and combat anxiety and depression.
Budget  --
Category  Youth Development, General/Other Youth Leadership
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Minorities Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
  • Agents of Change are building College and Job-Readiness Skills through participation in summer programs and Aaron's Presents' activities, such as perseverance, leadership, collaboration, problem-solving, public speaking and communications.
  • Agents of Change are contributing to their schools and communities, and are civically engaged.
  • Agents of Change are trying new activities, staying in school and planning for college or work.  
  • Agents of Change are building stable, strong connections to others: peers, families, organizations and/or the larger community.
  • Agents of Change are connected to Aaron's Presents and stay involved through summer programs, communications, and Aaron's Presents activities, or assisting with mentoring of younger participants. 
Program Long-Term Success 
  • Alumni are participating in and contributing to their communities and are civically engaged.
  • Alumni find educational and career paths that provide a sense of purpose, passion and impact.
  • Alumni in leadership roles are leading with empathy, and helping others to find purpose and connection.
  • Alumni have strong connections to others; peers, families, organizations and the larger community.
  • Alumni remain connected to Aaron's Presents, and some return as Mentors and Staff.
Program Success Monitored By 
Currently, Aaron’s Presents is strengthening its evaluation processes and tools to better capture its program outcomes. Aaron’s Presents’ current evaluation methods have included: Pre- and post-project participant surveys; Parent survey; Alumni survey; participants’ speeches or other letters or reflections they may write; and Output Data (numbers of participants, parents, youth-serving partners and other community organization partners, demographic information about participants, numbers of people, animals, and organizations impacted by the kids' projects, as well as numbers of new and repeat kids within each year and from year to year, numbers of Alumni remaining connected to Aaron’s Presents, and more). Data from all sources have recently been compiled, coded and analyzed against outcomes identified in the Aaron’s Presents program logic model, using established indicators for the 6C’s of Positive Youth Development (adapted from the U.S. Department of Education Mentoring Resource Center’s Mentoring Fact Sheet, Jan 2007) that are widely accepted by youth development research as the keys to successful adulthood: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Compassion. Aaron's Presents is built around supporting the 6th “C”: Contribution, which is typically believed to follow the development of the first five. In contrast, by
starting with this C, we build the other five. Findings from our data analysis, in conjunction with relevant research-based indicators, are currently being used as the basis for revisions of all instruments in order to bring them into closer alignment with desired program outcomes and established benchmarks for optimal youth development programming. A report of Ms. Clark’s initial findings is encouraging, showing 86% of youth participant open responses independently identifying elements of the 6C’s in their answers to the survey question(s), “What did you learn/how have you been impacted by Aaron’s Presents?”
Examples of Program Success 
For example, this summer 2018, we have developed 14 partnerships with 1, 2, 3 and 5-week overnight summer programs and camps (e.g., Phillips Academy, Exeter and Choate Summer Sessions, Camp Merrowvista, Mass Audubon Wildwood Camp, Brown University Leadership Institute, Grab the Torch and more) and are providing 45 Alumni with the opportunity to attend at no cost. Hurricane Island Outward Bound was granted $25K by the Stevens Foundation to fund a 15-day kayaking and canoeing expedition especially for 10 of our Alumni in August. We believe these experiences will be life-changing for these teens, their perspectives will be broadened, and they will feel more connected with the larger world and more eager to engage with others in their communities in positive, thoughtful ways. We believe they will be well prepared to take the full range of experiential learning they have had through Aaron's Presents to the next level.

Givers and Visionaries

Our Givers and Visionaries (Elementary and Middle) are introduced to the program primarily at their schools or after-school programs through a presentation by an Aaron’s Presents Mentor at the beginning of the school year. From that point on, the Mentor is available on-site weekly to meet with children who have even a vague interest in participating. It is completely up to them to join Aaron’s Presents (youth-initiated and directed), and participants complete an application to the best of their ability at any point between September-May. They start planning their projects week by week, and then eventually execute them out in the larger community and outside of school hours, often in partnership with another nonprofit organization of which they then gain awareness. Most projects take 3-6 months to plan, organize and complete, and require 6-8 hours of mentor time. For most of the young people we serve, this is the first time they have applied for anything, participated in anything service-related, or led a project from start to finish. We have identified a number of essential Civic Engagement, College and Job Readiness skills that they develop throughout this project initiation and planning stage, such as collaboration, creativity, empathy, perseverance, leadership, problem-solving, identifying and learning about needs, and written and oral
communications with both adults and peers.
 
After completing an Aaron's Presents project, participants may start a new project and are also welcome to share their experience with others by writing and speaking, such as at our annual ice cream Celebration at Phillips Academy for 200+ attendees. They also naturally recruit and advise new participants at their schools.
Budget  --
Category  Youth Development, General/Other Youth Citizenship
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years) Minorities Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
  • Youth practice the "6 C's" of Positive Youth Development: Starting with Contribution, Caring/Compassion, they build Confidence, Competence, Character and Connection.
  • Youth practice beyond-the-self thinking and social-emotional skills such as empathy and strart to become Civically Engagaed as they gain awareness of the larger world and needs around them.
  • Youth practice Job and College Readiness Skills, such as perserverance, leadership, collaboration, problem-solving, project management, public speaking and communications.
  • Youth make or deepen connections with Aaron's Presents, peers, families, schools, other organizations and the larger community. 
  • Youth express feelings of joy, purpose, self-worth, gratitude and pride while planning, during and after completing their projects.
Program Long-Term Success 
  • Alumni are participating in and contributing to their communities and are civically engaged.
  • Alumni find educational and career paths that provide a sense of purpose, passion and impact.
  • Alumni in leadership roles are leading with empathy, and helping others to find purpose and connection.
  • Alumni have strong connections to others; peers, families, organizations and the larger community.
  • Alumni remain connected to Aaron's Presents, and some return as Mentors and Staff.
Program Success Monitored By 
Currently, Aaron’s Presents is strengthening its evaluation processes and tools to better capture its program outcomes. We are working with Jeanne Clark, an evaluation consultant and co-founder of Sun Associates with 13 years of experience evaluating K-12 education programs at local, state and national levels.
 
Aaron’s Presents’ current evaluation methods have included: Pre- and post-project participant surveys; Parent survey; Alumni survey; participants’ speeches or other letters or reflections they may write; and Output Data (numbers of participants, parents, youth-serving partners and other community organization partners, demographic information about participants, numbers of people, animals, and organizations impacted by the kids' projects, as well as numbers of new and repeat kids within each year and from year to year, numbers of Alumni remaining connected to Aaron’s Presents, and more). Data from all sources have recently been compiled, coded and analyzed against outcomes identified in the Aaron’s Presents program logic model, using established indicators for the 6C’s of Positive Youth Development (adapted from the U.S. Department of Education Mentoring Resource Center’s Mentoring Fact Sheet, Jan 2007) that are widely accepted by youth development research as the keys to successful adulthood: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Compassion. Aaron's Presents is built around supporting the 6th “C”: Contribution, which is typically believed to follow the development of the first five. In contrast, by
starting with this C, we build the other five. Findings from our data analysis, in conjunction with relevant research-based indicators, are currently being used as the basis for revisions of all instruments in order to bring them into closer alignment with desired program outcomes and established benchmarks for optimal youth development programming. A report of Ms. Clark’s initial findings is encouraging, showing 86% of youth participant open responses independently identifying elements of the 6C’s in their answers to the survey question(s), “What did you learn/how have you been impacted by Aaron’s Presents?”
 
Examples of Program Success 
The following are examples of completed, student-led projects:
  • An 8th grade girl from Lawrence planned and assembled individual toiletry cases and an uplifting note for 10 women living in transitional housing at the YWCA.
  • Ten 8th grade boys and girls from Haverhill held a lip-sync contest at school to raise funds to purchase many supplies for the summer youth program at Emmaus House in Haverhill, and ESL workbooks for women living there.
  • A 6th grade girl at Youth Development Oorganization - Lawrence who loves to read cleaned, painted and redesigned the library space at YDO. This project received a collection of books from a 4th grade girl in Andover, who also loves to read and applied independently to organize a summer Read-a-thon. The two girls met and collaborated on the list of books to purchase.
  • Three 8th graders and one 7th grader in Lynn made dog and cat toys for the Northeast Animal Shelter. One of the girls had had serious mental challenges during the year, but then ended up coming to our annual Celebration in June and choosing to make a speech!
And here are a couple of the numerous examples of what our participants take away from these experiences:
  •  8th grader Daniella wrote, "Aaron's Presents gave me the courage I needed and gave me a head start helping the community...Because of them, my work in the community will hopefully never stop."
  • 4th grader, Kara, wrote, "I think that Aaron's Presents has changed me as a person because it has showed me, that the people I know, are not the only people in the world. Some people are not as fortunate as us. I learned that, we need to help the community, so that we can live in peace."
 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Management


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Leah Okimoto
CEO Term Start Jan 2014
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience
Leah Okimoto started Aaron’s Presents in January 2014 as a way to honor the memory of her son. At other phases of her life, she has composed music for musical theatre, run a legal recruiting firm, tutored and mentored kids, and volunteered at homeless shelters, hospitals, schools and meal kitchens. She graduated from Harvard University in 1998 and currently lives on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Kimberly LaBonte-Kay Regional Director, North Shore --
Ms Leah Okimoto Founder & Executive Director --
Mr. C. Tegner Rood Chief Financial Officer
Teg served  in many roles during a career in technology manufacturing including production, project, financial and general management.  Since 2003 he has served many non-profit organizations with other Harvard Business School alumni as a volunteer consultant through Community Action Partners.
 
In 2014, Teg became a volunteer mentor and coach for Entrepreneurship for All (E for All) in their business accelerator program.  He served as a mentor to Leah Okimoto, Aaron's Presents founder and Executive Director when she completed the E for All accelerator in 2015.  Since then, Teg has worked to assure that Aaron's Presents' business processes and financial control fully support the organization's mission and growth.

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
Top Prize Winner of 2015 - Accelerator Award EforAll 2105
Finalist, Excellence Awards Massachusetts Non-Profit Network 2017
Honoree, Tribute to Women YWCA of Greater Lawrence 2017
Nominee, Business Awards Greater Beverly Chamber of Commerce 2017
Nominee, Celebration of Excellence Enterprise Bank 2016
Grand Prize Winner, September Mass Innovation Nights 2015

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

Everything we do is dependent on collaboration. Our key collaborators, in addition to our growing corps of volunteers, consist of our school/afterschool partners where our programs operate. Additionally, we have created lasting partnerships with 135 community-based service organizations that are regular sites for Aaron's Presents participant's projects, such as: Bread & Roses and Lazarus House (food pantry and homeless shelter, Lawrence); Emmaus House (homeless shelter, Haverhill), Little Heroes Group Home (foster care, Haverhill), MSPCA Nevins Farm (Methuen), nursing homes, preschools, disaster relief organizations, refugee organizations, etc.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Foundation Comments

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Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 9
Number of Volunteers 30
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 2
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: 3
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 9
Male: 1
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

Risk Management Provisions

Commercial General Liability and D and O and Umbrella or Excess and Automobile and Professional

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A

Governance


Board Chair Ms. Marianne L. Cashman
Board Chair Company Affiliation William Raveis
Board Chair Term Jan 2015 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Katelyn C. Adams Salem State University Voting
Ms. Marianne L. Cashman William Raveis Voting
Ms. Rosemary I Costello Philanthropy Voting
Ms. Sara Gaunt Parent Voting
Mr. John Hilliard Next Jump Voting
Mr. Adam Hogue Ulen & Hogue Financial Voting
Mr. Timothy J. Keough White & Williams LLP Voting
Mr. Dinesh Makhija Corero Network Security Voting
Ms. Aldonsa Pereyra Phillips Academy Voting
Mr. C. Tegner Rood Aaron's Presents Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 7
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 5
Male: 5
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 1
Board Meeting Attendance % 100%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance
  • Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

--

Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown (%)

No data available

Fiscal Year July 01, 2018 to June 30, 2019
Projected Income $175,000.00
Projected Expense $181,698.00
Form 990s

2017 Form 990

2016 Form 990-EZ

2015 Form 990-EZ (Jan. 1, 2015 - June 30, 2015, change in fiscal year, covers a 6 month period)

Audit Documents

2017 Reviewed Financial Statement

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 --
Total Revenue $212,086 $76,705 --
Total Expenses $94,579 $59,071 --

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 --
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 --
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $0 -- --
Individual Contributions $206,038 $76,705 --
Indirect Public Support $1,000 -- --
Earned Revenue $0 -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses $0 -- --
Membership Dues $0 -- --
Special Events $5,175 -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $-127 -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 --
Program Expense $67,041 $51,359 --
Administration Expense $10,959 $7,712 --
Fundraising Expense $16,579 -- --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 2.24 1.30 --
Program Expense/Total Expenses 71% 87% --
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 8% 0% --

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 --
Total Assets $170,169 $37,827 --
Current Assets $170,169 $37,827 --
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 --
Current Liabilities $11,515 $0 --
Total Net Assets $158,654 $37,827 --

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 --
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 6.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 --
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 14.78 -- --

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 --
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.
 
Please note, this organization changed its fiscal year in 2015 from a Jan. 1 - Dec. 31 fiscal year to a July 1 - June 30 fiscal year. As such the 2015 990 posted above covers a six month period and is not included in the charts and graphs above.

Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Aaron’s Presents’ unique model and mentoring style is attracting and empowering youth from all social groups, academic achievement levels, disciplinary records and ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, aligned with our belief that every child has something valuable and unique to contribute to the world. The current generation, Generation Z, is known as the first generation driven by a need for “purpose, passion and impact” (Lovell Corporation study, 2017). However, many are struggling to find these in their own lives and feeling disconnected from others, and as a result, children and teens are experiencing increased levels of depression, anxiety, self-harm and isolation.

Aaron’s Presents’ Givers and Visionaries program goals are focused on empowering youth to become active, competent, confident and positive contributors to their communities and the larger world by fostering beyond-the-self thinking, a sense of connection, purpose and self-worth at an early age. Our model provides young children with an accessible opportunity and the positive adult mentoring needed to develop this mindset and the skills needed to successfully and meaningfully use it--connecting with and helping others in the larger community. We believe that the opportunity we provide supports all of the “Five C’s” (adapted from the U.S. Department of Education Mentoring Resource Center’s Mentoring Fact Sheet, Jan 2007) that are widely accepted by youth development research as the keys to successful adulthood:

  1. Competence: “Positive view of one’s actions...social, academic, cognitive, vocational.”
  2. Confidence: “The internal sense of overall positive self-worth and self-efficacy; positive identity; and belief in the future.”
  3. Connection: “Positive bonds with people...in which both parties contribute to the relationship.”
  4. Character: “Respect for societal and cultural rules, possession of standards for correct behaviors, a sense of right and wrong (morality), spirituality, integrity.
  5. Caring or Compassion: “A sense of sympathy and empathy for others.”

Additionally, our program is built around supporting the 6th “C”--Contribution--which is typically believed to follow the development of the first five. In contrast, by starting with this C, we aim to nurture the other five.

Our Agents of Change Program supports our Givers and Visionaries after 8th grade, with a focus on teens  from low-income communities with lower access to opportunities, in order to continue nurturing this mindset, further developing their skills and giving them a broader view of what they can achieve, as they prepare for their future connections and contributions to the world.

Key program and organizational goals include:

Goals:

  • Continue to serve approximately 450-600 youth participants and older Alumni for the next 1-2 years, with a focus on the underserved cities of Lowell, Lawrence and Lynn, continuing to deepen our existing school, after-school, and summer camp partnerships.
  • Secure financial and operational resources essential to long-term sustainability and future growth;
  • Start replicating our model in schools and after-school programs in the Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Greater Boston so that more children in diverse communities are served each year;
  • Establish ourselves as a thought leader and model program in the Greater Boston area in the field of positive youth development, particularly with regard to the development of beyond-the-self thinking (empathy), service-learning and civic engagement in elementary and middle school-aged youth.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Maintaining the high quality of our program is our first priority. The age of our participants and our individualized mentoring require highly vetted, trained and committed mentors. Currently, our five mentors are responsible for all mentoring. Our unique mentoring process provides a rare and invaluable firsthand link for youth between themselves and their schools and larger community, including the organizations and resources which serve that community.

We believe that positive empowerment and positive youth development are universal human needs, and serve kids in all types of communities. That said, high-need cities like Lowell, Lawrence, and Lynn will always remain our focus, as we recognize the enormous opportunity gap facing economically disadvantaged children, and we also believe that it is tremendously powerful and life-changing for youth who often find themselves in need and on the receiving end of services to be in the role of "giver," not to mention leader and initiator, visionary and agent of change in others' lives.

The following are examples of completed, student-led projects:

1) An 8th grade girl planned and assembled individual toiletry cases and an uplifting note for 10 women living in transitional housing at the YWCA.

2) Ten 8th grade boys and girls held a lip-sync contest at school to raise funds to purchase many supplies for the summer youth program at Emmaus House in Haverhill, and ESL workbooks for women living there.

3) A 6th grade girl who loves to read cleaned, painted and redesigned the library space at her afterschool program. This project received a collection of books from a 4th grade girl from a different city, who also loves to read and applied independently to organize a summer Read-a-thon. The two girls met and collaborated on the list of books to purchase.

4) Three boys (6th, 7th & 8th grade) boys led an afternoon football clinic for kids from an afterschool program in Lawrence.


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

Our primary methods of impact evaluation and measurement, collected and carried out by our mentors, are: Post-project participant surveys; Parent survey; Alumni survey; participants' speeches, or other letters or reflections they may write; and Output Data (numbers of participants, parents, youth-serving partners and other community organization partners, demographic information about participants, numbers of people and animals impacted by the kids' projects, and numbers of brand new and repeat kids within each year and from year to year). We are planning to hire impact evaluation professional to conduct a formal analysis of all of the qualitative data we have from the past 4 years, coding them for areas of impact, and producing quantitative data about our impact on youth development.

Our youth express our impact best:

--After an Alumni visit to a company in Cambridge, 9th grader Gabriel from Lowell High School wrote, "What I thought about the trip was it was amazing to see how privileged we are to live in a country where education is possible and making your dreams come true isn't a fantasy. What made me surprised on the trip was the interns: When a question about high school came up, I noticed that they all had trouble in high school and that it isn't easy to do the work that is required to graduate. My input from this trip is if you try hard in high school, your dreams can become a reality."

--Elvin, a 7th grade boy who brought food and supplies to 20 homeless men and women living under a bridge, wrote, “After seeing them my whole life has changed. I learned that I actually have a heart. I love helping people who are in need."

--8th grader Nana, who completed several projects focused on helping children: “My name is Nana. I'm 14 years old and I go to Lowell Community Charter Public School. I was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. My parents emigrated from Ghana to the U.S. As a child we see leaders as only older people. We think that making the world a better place is something we can't achieve until we get older. We think that one day we'll change the world or someday we'll become president. But for me that one day would come soon… Aaron's Presents is creating a generation of young leaders for the world. Aaron's Presents helps kids realize that they have something valuable to give to the world at whatever age they may be."


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

We believe that the results of our work over the past 4 years have demonstrated that our concept is working and empowering young children. Our participation among children in all types of communities, achievement levels and social groups, our partnerships with schools and youth-serving programs, our partnerships with community organization service sites and our funding from local businesses, foundations and individuals has grown significantly each year. Currently we are operating at 17 partner sites (schools and after-school programs, such as the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs). Parents, school staff and other adults in the community have been grateful for the kind of mentoring and logistical support we have given their children and students, as they are often at a loss as to how to help kids this age refine and execute their ideas but recognize the value of doing so. They have also been surprised by the level of enthusiasm expressed by their kids for an activity that focuses on benefiting others, as evidenced by spontaneous exclamations like, “That was the best day of my whole year!" after visiting with elderly veterans.


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Aaron's Presents began in Jan 2014 in Lowell and Lawrence, completing 12 projects with 27 kids. Since then, we have helped guide over 800 children to complete over 300 projects, benefiting over 70 partner organizations and more than 30,000 individuals on the North Shore and Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. Currently, more than 50% of our participants (65% female and 35% male) come from low-income, recent immigrant families of color residing in urban districts, representing over a dozen countries. We currently are operating at the following 17 program partner schools or after-school youth development organizations (listed by town, alphabetically): Andover (Sanborn Elementary, West Middle School); Beverly (Centerville Elementary); Danvers (Holton Richmond Middle School); Lawrence (Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lawrence, Happy Hands at Hancock Courts, Si, Se Puede, Wetherbee Middle School, Youth Development Organization); Lowell (Coalition for a Better Acre, Lowell Community Cooperative School, Boys & Girls Club of Lowell); Lynn (Boys & Girls Club of Lynn, Centerboard Program, Fecteau Leary Middle School, YMCA of Lynn); Peabody (Higgins Middle School).

Additionally, we have started an Agents of Change program in our Lowell headquarters, to allow our high school participants to continue growing as community leaders. Some of the activities we offer for our alumni are: Weekly SAT Prep class (since October, we have had 10-12 9th and 10th graders come each week), visits to colleges, visits and presentations to companies, scholarships and connections to summer programs and camps, homework help, art supplies and music lessons. In addition to the Alumni Development activities that we do during the school year, we anticipate focusing most of our summer activities each year on Alumni, because of their increased availability. We also anticipate having a volunteer math teacher from Phillips Academy who will do more intensive and advanced math workshops.

We are also hard at work on developing more robust Development and Fundraising skills for our overall organization, so that we have the funds to keep expanding our core and alumni programs to more sites.