The CFK Model

The Change for Kids community works together to allow young people to see themselves in the future with unlimited options. CFK School Managers, in partnership with principals, teachers, and CFK leadership, identify the needs of each CFK partner school.

Together, we provide and manage a mix of resources, including leadership support; academic enrichment and engagement programs; volunteers; corporate sponsors; school community support; and custom programming.


TALNT Academy

A new CFK initiative designed to intersect arts education with social-emotional learning (SEL). TALNT brings arts instruction with an intentional social-emotional learning focus into schools to help students creatively channel their energy while being coached by working professionals in the arts.


Resource Drives

Our schools serve as a critical hub of their communities. One of the most fulfilling ways we partner with schools is bringing that community to life, especially during holidays, with meals, gifts, and winter clothing where it's needed. Based on the needs of the school, CFK engages its extended network to support specific needs of the school community. Drives can have ripple effects - a coat drive at one of our schools was the unlikely solution to increase attendance during the freezing winter months.


Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is an important tool to introduce financial capability to our scholars, their parents or caregivers, and our school communities. CFK scholars are taught basic principles and practices on how to manage money - both at home and in school.


Experience NY

CFK's Experience NY enrichment program enables students and their families to experience museums, Broadway and off-Broadway shows, dance recitals, music concerts, and corporate business offices.

School Beautification

CFK transform school environments from dreary to bright and functional for a real impact on student engagement. At our CFK School Beautification Days, we bring talented, recognized muralists into the schools to visually amplify the culture and mission of each school, and volunteers make spaces into inspiring learning environments where students love to learn.


Reading Buddies

Volunteers visit classrooms during literacy blocks to read aloud to a small group or full class, then engage them in a lively discussion about what they've read together. These sessions provide students with additional opportunities to improve their comprehension skills, fire up their imaginations, and make text-to-self connections. Students are excited to see new faces in their classroom and love hearing a favorite story told by new people.


Graduating to Greatness

The CFK Graduating to Greatness program is a critical part of preparing students for success beyond elementary school. A multi-year, multi-event series of workshops help students and their parents navigate the middle school application process.


Parent University

Parent University is a series of workshops and activities for parents on how to support their children's learning while empowering them to pursue personal goals. CFK also provides volunteers during workshop times to facilitate activities for students to alleviate child care concerns so parents can focus.


Program Partners


  • Behind the Book

  • Chess NYC

  • City Parks Foundation

  • Department of Youth and Community Development

  • Children's Museum of the Arts 

  • Leap 

  • New York State Council on the arts 

  • NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

  • Robert Cornegy/District 36 

  • Salvadori Center 

  • Story Pirates 

  • Third Street Music School Settlement

  • Urban Golf Academy 

  • Writopia Lab



Our Schools

Change for Kids partners with 13 schools across the five boroughs reaching almost 5,000 students. We provide and manage a mix of resources, including leadership support for principals, teachers, parents, and other school leaders; academic enrichment and engagement programs; volunteers; corporate sponsors; school community support; custom CFK programming designed to fill the gaps identified by our partner schools; and meaningful volunteer opportunities for individuals, public and private organizations, and college/university students.

Select a School from the list below.
Brighter Choice Community School
Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School
Grant Avenue Elementary School
The West Farms School
P.S. 6X
The Roberto Clemente School
P.S. 15
P.S. 21
Margaret P. Emery Elm Park
Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School
P.S. 81
Amalia Castro School
P.S. 142
Walter Francis Bishop Magnet School of the Arts
P.S. 160
P.S. 277
The Fairmont Neighborhood School
P.S. 314
The Surfside School
P.S. 329
Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School



The Change for Kids approach makes a positive impact on the lives of nearly 5,000 students at 13 partner schools in all five boroughs. With the help of supporters like you, Change for Kids raised $1.7 million this past year to combat educational inequity in New York City. This funded 57,833 programming hours and 115 volunteer events - that's over 4,700 volunteer hours dedicated to students. 80% of students in Change for Kids partner schools received new coats, winter accessories, or gifts during the 2018 holiday season. With an equal focus on academics, social-emotional learning, and community engagement, CFK truly does make change for kids.

Twenty-five years ago in 1994

Ted Madara, a “finance guy,” was at a bar and got into a discussion with a teacher who casually mentioned that each drink he ordered cost more than what was in the budget for her kids’ school supplies for a year.

Ted immediately realized this was something he could - and should - change.

He could help meet a basic need of kids in public schools. He saw that even small change could have a big impact, and encouraged the people in his network to donate their spare change to help purchase school supplies for a public school classroom.

That’s how Change for Kids was founded.

Receiving incredible support from his network, Madara eventually incorporated as a nonprofit in 1996, and partnered with four elementary schools in New York City. In one of the schools, the team discovered 30 violins in a closet. A hand was raised to underwrite a teacher and curriculum, and suddenly 50 kids had music lessons. Today, 500 kids at four schools study music because of Change for Kids.

In 2008, in the midst of the stock market crash and facing serious economic challenges, funding for Change for Kids dropped drastically. Colin Smith, a member of the Change for Kids Board of Directors, stepped up to become the Executive Director, and led the organization through a mission restructure, as well as grew funding from $79,000 to $367,000 in the course of one year.

Change for Kids Founder Ted Madara
Executive Director Kevin Ervin

Over the course of the next few years, Change for Kids grew from a school-supply driven organization, to one with a strategic approach to partnership, with a focus on delivering targeted services, developing the role of the School Manager, and creating a vision for sustainability. By 2017, CFK's budget had grown to approximately $2,000,000, with a robust staff of School Managers, Development & Communications professionals, and strong executive leadership. Our corporate partners have become Super Heroes to the 5,000 kids we serve together. For example, Gensler designers worked tirelessly to turn Grant Avenue Elementary School's “scary science room” into a beautiful collaboration space for teachers. Every Thanksgiving, RBC provides 40+ families with a bountiful Thanksgiving meal. This past year, Nordstrom provided 1,000 students with coats through our partnership with Operation Warm.

Today, Kevin Ervin sits at the helm of Change for Kids. A visionary leader hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Kevin has years of experience in youth development, and is fully committed to providing the critical supports, experiences, and access necessary so kids can reimagine their possibilities and overcome inequity. Under Kevin's leadership, Change for Kids is primed to direct our resources, efficiently and effectively, to meet the acute needs of potentially 492 schools.

Change for Kids can change the future. We’re so excited for what the next 25 years will hold.