What is your most memorable situation or child that you helped through Kids In Seats?
While working with a child who was chronically in and out of the NYC shelter system, the child returned to the shelter with the foam finger he received at a baseball game earlier that year. When asked why he was able to keep track of the finger when he was unable to retain clothing or shoes he replied, “It was the best day of my life”. It was at that moment we knew we were on to something huge.
Can you tell us a little about your organization and the mission?
Since 2006, Kids In Seats has offered motivation and positive reinforcement to more than 166,000 at-risk and underserved children in the New York City area by using event experiences to reward and recognize their academic achievement or positive social behavior.
To achieve the broadest impact possible, Kid In Seats works directly with 60+ local social service agencies and schools that support more than 150,000 families. Kid In Seats plays a vital supporting role in their efforts by sourcing tens of thousands of premier sporting and cultural event experiences each year and allocating them – free of charge – so they can be used as positive reinforcement tools with deserving kids. As these organizations report sharp decreases in funding for their supplemental programs or worse, the removal of these funds entirely from the budget, the value Kid In Seats adds to the mission of these agencies and schools becomes more critical each year.
Kid In Seats solicits and receives these premier event experiences (valued at nearly $9.6 million to date) from a generous donor network that includes individuals, corporations, season ticket holders, suite owners, teams, venues and leagues. Using an online process, Kid In Seats then works with the agencies and schools in its network to ensure the experiences are appropriately allocated to deserving children.
Children supported by these agencies and schools earn Kid In Seats experiences by reaching goals they set with the mentor or teacher that knows them best. The reward may be recognition for improved academic performance, changed social behavior or community work. The feeling of being rewarded for a behavior modification or a tough goal reached also incentivizes them to set greater goals for themselves. Over time, their repetitive positive behavior helps to develop useful character habits and increases their discipline, determination and perseverance.
Kid In Seats' efforts to solicit and match event experiences with social service agencies and schools as incentives for their youth population is a simple mission – with amazing results.
What was the inspiration for creating this organization?
A group of well-connected individuals came together to form Kid In Seats after realizing they had access to corporate and personal tickets that were not being utilized.
Who benefits from this program and how? And how are children selected?
Kid In Seats serves more than 60 local social service agencies and schools that support at-risk and underprivileged kids in the NYC area with programs ranging from mentoring programs to mental health clinics. Kids are selected by their counselors, clinicians or teachers for attaining treatment, education, or socialization goals.
Why did you personally become involved with this organization?
I have a long professional history of working wit at-risk youth (20+ years). Finding incentives that keep kids motivated and engaged was always a struggle. The ticket incentive is by far the most motivating incentive I’ve ever seen since it provides a reward that they would otherwise never get to experience. And, it just makes sense. Why should there be any empty seats in any local ballpark or venue?
How would you compare your programs and results to others working in the same area?
With funding for supplemental reward programs dwindling (or non-existent), we play an integral role for local social service agencies and schools to provide positive reinforcement to the youth they serve.
We are unique in that we provide a win/win for all sides of the “transaction”:
Who can donate tickets to the program? Please describe the process.
Anyone with tickets (we never accept single tickets because we are sending kids with a minimum of one chaperone) to an event that he or she can no longer use.
The process is simple… email your PDF ticket to email@example.com. Kids In Seats will do the rest of the work for you, including sending the tax receipt. All we ask is 24 hours of notice so that we can match the ticket with the most deserving recipient.
What are your most urgent needs? And how can ticketing professionals help?
In the last 11 years we have sent over 166,000 kids to events- pretty amazing!
However, statistically 96% of our ticket recipients come from environments requiring food assistance. The chances of those children having $20.00 for a hotdog and drink are slim to none- and that leaves a hug hole in the experience. We’re looking for ways to complete the experience with a food voucher so that he or she can have the full experience at the game.
We would look for the ticketing professionals to spread the idea of donating a meal with the ticket to their clients. In some cases, it is reaching out to season ticket holders and in others, it is a matter of getting Kid In Seats in front of the right people at the venues.
We would also like access to better seats. It is common to see dark suites at events. Kid In Seats can fill those suites for the corporations that own them and put them to a positive use in the community.
If I wanted to get to know the organization better, what are the best ways to learn more?
You can always call Rae Anne McLaughlin, Executive Director at 347-514-2195, visit our web site or attend a board meeting. We welcome new people with ideas and the ability to bring those ideas to life.
How can I get involved? As a volunteer? To donate tickets?
Simply contact Rae Anne at 347-514-2195 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get the ball rolling!