As you may already know, May is National Foster Care Month. And as you most certainly know, May is also the month that we celebrate Mother’s Day. This is a fact that does not go unnoticed by Dr. Jennifer Jacobs and Jessica Stern, co-founders of Connect Our Kids, a non-profit organization that uses intelligent software to find sustainable, long-lasting placement for foster children.
Two Women. One Vision. Lasting Change.
Jacobs, a West Point grad, nuclear engineer, former White House fellow, and experienced consultant, was pregnant with her third child when she read an article that highlighted the difficulties social workers face when trying to match foster children with the right families. Jacobs knew there had to be a better way. Relying on her strong technical and scientific background, she began researching more effective, efficient means of streamlining the process by implementing advanced software tools.
Stern, who was a foster child herself, spent her adult life in project management, communications, marketing, and philanthropic fundraising. Perhaps due to her experience in foster care, or perhaps in spite of it, Stern was always passionate about social change and constantly sought ways to affect the status quo.
When these two women met in 2013, their diverse but complementary backgrounds created the perfect launching point for Connect Our Kids. Today, their organization aims to empower child welfare professionals with tools that will make the process of matching children with foster home not only more efficient but more successful. The end result? More forever homes for the 400,00 children currently in our foster care systems.
To celebrate National Foster Care Month, Connect Our Kids recently launched #ProjectMyFavoriteThing. This simple yet meaningful campaign allows kids from all walks of life to become advocates for foster children – in their own words. Children are asked to make a short video describing their favorite thing about their mom or dad followed by a brief explanation as to why they think every child should have the opportunity to have a parent as wonderful as theirs. These videos are then shared on social media as a means of spreading awareness about the hundreds of thousands of foster kids who need loving families.
If you would like to participate in #ProjectMyFavoriteThing, email Jessica@connectourkids.org for complete instructions and a copy of the #ProjectMyFavoriteThing permission slip.
Ride Through Richmond and Picnic in the Park
In addition to their work in advocacy, technology, and community engagement, Connect Our Kids also partners with other local organizations to promote education surrounding foster care.
This year, The Buffalo Soldiers Richmond Virginia Motorcycle Club chose Connect Our Kids as the beneficiary of their Inaugural Ride Through Richmond and Picnic in the Park. The Ride Through Richmond will be held on June 30 starting at 10:30 am at Steel Horse Harley Davidson in Midlothian and will end with a picnic at Byrd Park in Richmond.
The public is invited to join the riders at 12 pm for a lunch sponsored by Publix, music, and children’s activities provided by Romp N’ Roll. Richmond’s Fire Chief will also be making an appearance with a fire engine that kids will be able to tour!
The Buffalo Soldiers have suggested a $20 donation for riders and $10 for passengers, a cost which also covers lunch. A $10 donation is requested for guests joining in on the festivities and picnic in the park, however, kids 10 and under are free. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Connect Our Kids. Learn more here.
Looking for other ways to get involved?
Connect Our Kids offers a number of ways for you and your family to get involved. From hosting your own fundraiser to monetary donations to becoming a social media “friend,” being an advocate for foster children and their families has never been easier. To learn more, visit Connect Our Kids: Get Involved.
While Stern and Jacobs came to their roles as foster care advocates through very different means, they share an unshakeable commitment to improving the outcomes of foster care placement through technology, education, and empowerment. Together, they have created an agent of change that will continue to have lasting impacts on the lives of thousands of foster children and the families who love them.
Learn more about Connect Our Kids, its founders, and its ongoing work at www.connectourkids.org.