We wanted to help kids by giving a free backpack with school supplies to any child in our community who otherwise could not afford one. While we were preparing to launch a new nonprofit to support this idea, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 turned the world upside down.
We saw stories of kids whose parents and grandparents died. We saw kids whose parents lost their jobs, who were hungry because they couldn’t afford food. We saw news stories of higher child abuse rates. More kids in poverty, homeless, food insecure, and traumatized because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We felt we should try to do more than offer school supplies to kids. We knew that when the pandemic ended, kids would need a lot more… food, toys, books, clothing, personal care and hygiene supplies, holiday gifts, and many other things.
Also, we knew we would need more kids to become engaged in our mission. Most kids don’t spend much time thinking about childhood poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and trauma. But we can help other kids in our community learn about these important problems and empower them to do something about them.
So in April 2020 we launched Kids Backing Kids, Inc. Our goal is to help kids in need and to engage other kids to fight childhood poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and trauma. To improve lives, one child at a time. Kids helping kids, one backpack at a time.
Kids Backing Kids.
By Kids. For Kids. With Kids.
Grace, Olivia, and Simone Rodrigue
Jim Rodrigue, PhD is President of Kids Backing Kids, Inc. He has an unbridled passion for helping children and families who are economically disadvantaged in our society. He brings highly effective leadership skills to the organization, having served in numerous administrative and organizational leadership roles during his 30+ years in academia. As a Professor of Surgery and Psychiatry in the Harvard Medical School, he established himself as a leading clinical scientist on racial and income disparity in surgical and medical access and outcomes. As a clinical psychologist, he has worked extensively with children and families experiencing the mental health consequences of poverty and trauma. He also has served his community in many ways, including coaching youth sports, Recreation Commissioner (elected), and Town Meeting Member (elected).
President & Director
Olivia Rodrigue is Vice President and Co-Founder of Kids Backing Kids, Inc. She is a senior at Wellesley High School. She enjoys baking, hanging out with friends, wheel throwing, and sports. In school she enjoys criminology, psychology, and ASL. She is an active member of the National Charity League, where she volunteers at different nonprofit organizations such as Cradles to Crayons and the Red Cross Food Pantry.
Vice President, Director &
Kathleen MacNaughton, PhD is Treasurer of Kids Backing Kids, Inc. She has an extensive history of volunteer work within the community and has held leadership positions with the Wellesley Chapter of the National Charity League. She is a clinical psychologist specializing in treating children and families, including those who are recovering from difficult and traumatic life experiences.
Treasurer & Director
Grace Rodrigue is Secretary and Co-Founder of Kids Backing Kids, Inc. She is a recent graduate of Wellesley High School and attends Northeastern University. She has volunteered regularly with many community-based organizations, including the Red Cross Food Pantry, the Women’s Lunch Place, and Cradles to Crayons. She is also a past member of the National Charity League, where she gained considerable leadership experience. She enjoys photography, writing and spending time with young kids.
Secretary, Director & Co-Founder
Simone Rodrigue is a freshman at Wellesley High School. She plays JV volleyball, club volleyball, and enjoys art and her volunteer activities with kids through the National Charity League.
Director & Co-Founder
Adam Cohen is an equity partner at the firm Davids & Cohen with offices in Wellesley, MA, Hartford, CT, Providence, RI and Bonita Springs, FL. He received his BA in Business Management from Clark University and his law degree from Suffolk University Law School. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Wellesley, MA.
Gerardo Martinez has been in the field of education for more than 20 years. He debuted as an English Teacher at the Taft Middle School in Boston where he sought to transform the learning experiences of inner-city kids through his teaching of literature. He later earned a Master’s degree in educational administration and was appointed by Superintendent Thomas Payzant to lead the work in transforming the Curley Middle School in Jamaica Plain. He spent five years at the Edward Devotion Pre-K to 8 School, and joined the Wellesley Public Schools in 2011 where he currently serves as principal at Schofield Elementary School. His passion for supporting the underprivileged comes from his early work collaborating and supporting the McLean Hospital and Harvard RALLY partnership, both as teacher and administrator (See New Directions for Youth Development, by Tina Malti and Gil G. Noam).
Emily Redmond is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, and illustrator of humorous children's books. She also has extensive experience in marketing and advertising. She received her BFA from the Art School at the University of Hartford. She lives with her husband and two children in Wellesley, MA.
Aaron Fleishman is Associate Director of the FIRST Program, a research infrastructure platform, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Associate in Surgery in the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. He received his BA from the University of Massachusetts–Boston in Psychology and his Master of Public Health in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Boston University. He lives with his wife and daughter in Jamaica Plain, MA.