What We Do
Help Kids in Need
We help kids by giving them a new backpack filled with supplies, food or other material resources that they need. Kids with limited financial resources, kids who live hungry every day, kids without a home, and kids who have had recent traumatic experiences or who have been the victims of other tragic circumstances.
Depending on their specific needs, kids referred to KBK might receive school supplies, food, clothing, stuffed animals and toys, personal care and hygiene supplies, or holiday gifts, among other items.
Kids can get backpacks in a few different ways. Our community partners – school teachers, guidance counselors, school nurses, health professionals, coaches, social service agencies, first responders, faith-based organizations, and other nonprofits – can refer a child to us and we'll deliver the backpacks to the kids. Or, we can provide backpacks directly to our community partners who then distribute the backpacks to the kids they serve. Finally, family members, neighbors, or someone within the child’s social network can simply make a referral to us.
Once we receive a backpack request, we’ll contact the person who initiated the request and gather some basic information. If the child meets the basic guidelines for a backpack, we’ll reach out to the parent or guardian. We will provide the parent or guardian with information about Kids Backing Kids and confirm the child’s eligibility for assistance. If the child is eligible, we’ll fill a backpack and deliver it within a few days. If we are working directly with a community partner, we'll simply deliver the backpacks to them.
At this time, we provide services to children in K through 6th grade who live in Framingham, Natick, Needham, Newton, Wayland, Wellesley, or Weston. With additional support and more sponsors, we hope to expand our reach in 2021!
We give informative and engaging presentations to schools, community agencies, faith-based organizations, town departments, first responders, businesses, and other nonprofit organizations. Our Directors and trained volunteers speak on topics ranging from childhood poverty and homelessness to food insecurity and the social and psychological impact of traumatic life events in childhood. These range from brief (~10 minutes) and informal discussions to more extended (30 or 60 minutes) and formal presentations – whatever works best for your group.
KBK youth volunteers are trained by our leadership team to give talks on these topics. This helps them to really learn and understand the impact of poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and trauma on children. It also helps them develop public speaking skills, and it teaches them how to engage with other leaders in the community. This is an important component of our KBK volunteer program.
Mentorship and Volunteerism
At KBK, we are very proud of the opportunities we provide to kids to engage in sustained volunteerism. We have three types of volunteer activities, with increasing levels of engagement.
Backpack Stuffers are kids in grades 5 to 8. This is just what it sounds like – preparing backpacks for the different types of needs we service. It’s a great option for kids who want some experience volunteering, but who have limited time or are trying to find a good fit with their interests. It’s a very flexible volunteer experience. Kids can make this a one-time volunteer thing with their friends or a regular volunteer experience – weekly, monthly, or on some other schedule that works for them.
Community Speakers are kids in grades 8 to 12. This requires a higher level of commitment as a volunteer. Kids select from one of four topics – childhood poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, or trauma – and we then educate and train them to speak to small or large groups about these topics. The goal is to help them feel comfortable talking in front of other kids and adults about something that is important to them and to the community.
It’s a win-win for everyone: the volunteer benefits by learning deeply about an important societal problem and gaining experience and self-confidence as a public speaker; KBK benefits by getting the word out about his mission and programs; schools and community-based organizations benefit because their students and members are learning about problems that affect our community; and kids impacted by these problems benefit by knowing that their peers are doing something to benefit them and others. The time commitment for this volunteer experience is about 2 to 3 hours per month.
Junior Leaders are kids in grades 10 to 12. One of the wonderful things that separates KBK from many other nonprofits is that we recruit kids to serve as Junior Leaders within the organization. We do this to mentor them on the operational aspects of a nonprofit and the roles and responsibilities of the executive team and program leaders.
Kids learn the leadership skills needed to be the face and voice of the organization in the community, when interacting with other kids, their families, their teachers, and our community partners. It’s a valuable and sustained real-world experience that we hope positions them well to become the next generation of community leaders and nonprofit directors.
We select only 4 to 8 kids for this apprenticeship role every year. Each kid is paired with an Executive Team member for one year. They work closely with their assigned mentor, learn that particular role, and participate in decision-making and the activities within that role. At the end of their experience, they should have a solid understanding of what that job entails and how a nonprofit organization operates. It’s a unique experience not typically found in a nonprofit organization.