Leaving the Nest

Cecilia Garcia
December 16, 2002


Every one of us has been through this
experience, recognizing that the time has come for
a change. For Connect for Kids and the Benton Foundation,
the change represents the next logical step for a
project that began as an experiment and succeeded
in testing its premise: the Internet can be used to
advance children's issues on the national agenda.
On January 1, 2003, Connect for Kids begins operation
as a non-profit organization, legally separated from
the Benton Foundation.

"Benton is proud of the track record Connect
for Kids has built," says Benton President Andrea
Taylor. "This project has devoted six years
to innovative development and effective application
of communications technology to promote sound social
policy for children and families. This is a solid
foundation for a new organization."

Background

Benton's focus on children's issues began in the early
1990s, when the Foundation played a pivotal role in
convening the Coalition for America's Children. Benton
envisioned a children's advocacy community that could
use communications technology to speak effectively
in putting children at the forefront of the public
policy agenda. Connect for Kids is the legacy of this
vision and commitment.

Connect for Kids has been using the Web and electronic
newsletters since 1996 to serve our audience of parents,
educators and child advocates/activists. We believe
everyone has a stake in improving policies that affect
the wellbeing of children and families. We also are
committed to finding community-based solutions to
problems faced by children and families. We've
used public opinion research as a communications tool
in this effort.

Filling a Unique Niche

Our research shows that adults, parents and child
advocates alike, often feel frustrated by the perceived
difficulty of making a difference. We have learned
that:

  • People want to help kids, but are not finding
    practical information about what is needed and what
    is working in their community from traditional news
    sources.
  • Combining parenting and advocacy information can
    be a successful strategy for moving people from
    personal concerns to community-based solutions.

Special thanks to the David and Lucile Packard and
Annie E. Casey Foundations whose generous support
made this grand experiment possible and to our partners,
the Casey Family Programs, the National Education
Association and the Advertising Council. We received
support for the first time in 2002 from the C.S. Mott
Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bernard van Leer
Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller
Family Fund, affirming our belief that a good online
resource that provides tools and information for people
who want to get involved in making our communities
work for kids is worth supporting.

As we move forward, our mission will continue to
focus on moving people from a personal concern about
their families to a shared, public concern about making
our communities safe and nurturing environments for
our children. We invite you to let us know how we're
doing.



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