Naples-based educational nonprofit Charity for Change has enhanced its school programs with a new online platform and expanded curriculum. The enhancements have been experienced by 1,000 students in summer programs at the Salvation Army Fran Cohen Youth Center, YMCA South Collier and Greater Naples and the Guadalupe Center.

The new online platform improves functionality for teachers and students and provides for the addition of new social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, which grew by 400% to address the mental wellness challenges during the pandemic and the aftermath.

“The pandemic presented an opportunity for Charity for Change to expand its programs and its reach,” said Karen Coney, founder and CEO of Charity for Change. “Recognizing that the ‘new normal’ would require additional academic rigor and a renewed need to equip children with the SEL skills to navigate new challenges, we engaged experts to expand our curriculum and were able to do so through community financial support.”

The enhanced program includes scientifically proven methods of teaching SEL, including four teaching modalities. The proprietary curriculum seamlessly blends character education, charitable involvement and giving, with standards-based math and language arts in a cooperative learning environment. The program includes:

  • Mindfulness activities, to allow children to understand how to apply the character traits in their everyday lives
  • GiverTV video series including presentations by community leaders
  • Animated math problems that align with current educational standards
  • Hands-on projects for charities to facilitate working together to help others
  • Peer-to-peer exercises to develop compassion and empathy
  • Physical activities that teach students to work together and accommodate each other’s differences
  • Puzzles to develop a deeper understanding of each character trait
  • Plays modeling the character traits in everyday circumstances
  • Family exercises to inspire deeper-level conversations about the character traits in real-world situations

“I think when we look at school programs and after school post pandemic, we’ll need to close some gaps,” said Maria Hill, a former fifth grade teacher, 2017 Golden Apple recipient and science chair at Oak Ridge Middle School in Naples, who worked to help develop the expanded curriculum. “As educators, we need every resource available. When the program is as engaging as this one, the children feel good about themselves and each other.”

The enhancements to the curriculum and technology of the successful program were enabled by community support including grants from Arthrex Charitable Giving Program, Collaboratory (formerly Southwest Florida Community Foundation), Collier Cares, Community Foundation of Collier County, First Florida Integrity Bank, Home-Tech, William Rosenberg Family Foundation, Second Chance Foundation, State Farm and John R. Wood Properties. Charity for Change programs are funded by individual donations, foundation grants, business partners and civic organizations.

The proven SEL program builds resilience and self-efficacy in children, setting them on a trajectory to thrive in school and later in life by creating a world filled with empathy and compassion – free of hate, violence, bullying and cruelty.

Since 2008, 80,000 pre-K through 5th grade children have participated in the daily learning program, many for seven years. More than 100 collaborating charity partners have received more than $140,000 raised by Charity for Change participants.

For information on how to create change by supporting the program, visit charityforchange.org.

About Charity for Change

Founded in 2008, Charity for Change brings children together to see past their differences and work together for others in need to prevent bullying and violence and instill empathy and a giving spirit. Through character education and charitable activities, the organization serves children through its afterschool, summer school, preschool, and in-school programs. Since 2008, the program as impacted 80,000 children, instilling nine character traits and raising $140,000 for 100 area charities. The goal of Charity for Change is to cultivate confident, compassionate children who become successful learners, contribute to their schools and communities, and who will participate in society as empathetic, resilient, ethical and self-reliant citizens. In 2020, Charity for Change launched GiverTV, an interactive video series hosted on Charity for Change’s YouTube channel. Videos feature the program’s mascots, Giver and U2Can, teaching social-emotional learning foundational skills that include character education and service learning. For more information about Charity for Change, please visit www.charityforchange.org or call 239-592-6787.