A child with an education
Children born into poverty want to play, live, learn and dream like other children. Sadly, many of our underprivileged children don’t have access to necessary educational opportunities. They are left feeling defeated, frustrated and many become a statistic.
THE HARSH TRUTH
By the time many children from low-income families enter grade school, their proficiency in reading has already become an issue. Approximately, 47 percent of fourth graders from low-income families read below the basic level. 1
⅔ of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.2
Children living in poverty have a higher rate of absenteeism because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members.2
Nearly half of all children that are born into poverty will continue to be poor as adults.3
Austin Kids Can! was founded with a single mission.
Empower Austin’s youth who are economically disadvantaged by providing access to high-quality afterschool programs that build emotional resilience, self-confidence, and a foundation for technology skills.
Our work is cut out for us, our sleeves are rolled up, and we’re honored and excited to make a difference.
A LETTER FROM OUR FOUNDER
My interest in helping Austin’s underprivileged children began with one little girl. I met this little girl when I was working as a teaching assistant at a charter school in Austin, Texas. At the time, she was 5 years old and she had seen more adversity than some people will ever experience in their lifetime. Understandably, she was struggling to keep her grades up. She was not attending class regularly and she was starting to act out.
I wanted to see if I could help, so I began tutoring her two days a week after school. Together, we would go to the library to read, we would work on difficult math problems, or we would grab dinner and just talk about life.
As the afternoons came and went, I noticed something started to change. Gradually, her grades increased to high B’s and A’s. The conflicts she was having with other schoolmates began to decrease. When she walked into a room she was beaming with confidence. She began raising her hand in class and participating in discussions. When she was having a particularly hard day, she felt safe enough to speak to me or her teacher about the obstacles in her way. When I saw how these afternoons were helping her, I knew I couldn’t stop there.
Austin Kids Can! was born from my desire to provide a safe environment for our underprivileged kids in Austin to learn, grow and dream. In Fall 2017 we began offering our CS and coding programs to students in need living in Austin, Texas.
None of this would be possible without your support and contributions. Thank you for helping us progress on this journey. Join us as we continue to create high quality after school programs to underprivileged children of Austin.
To education for everyone,
WHAT WE'RE DOING
To close the achievement gap and build brighter tomorrows, we bring our K-5 after school programs directly to the elementary schools and students who need additional educational support. Students will have access to our after school programs: Computer Science & Coding and Social & Emotional Learning.
WHY AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS MATTER
Children who attend high quality programs have better peer relations, emotional adjustment, conflict resolution skills, and grades, compared to their peers who are not in after school programs.4
Students who spend 1-4 hours per week in extracurricular activities are 49% less likely to use drugs.5
A report on 21st Century Community Learning Centers showed that 45% of all afterschool program participants improved their reading grades.
MEET OUR TEAM
Our Board Members
Founder & President
Donna Raskin is the founder and President of Austin Kids Can! Donna has been an active volunteer in the Austin community for over 12 years and has held leadership and hands-on roles with SafePlace, Rock on Center for Kids (ROCK), Partners in Education and the Junior League of Austin. Ms. Raskin resided in California and practiced as a CPA for 20 years prior to her move to Austin with her husband to be. In 2017, Donna created Austin Kids Can! to provide after school opportunities for the underprivileged and economically disadvantaged children of Austin. Donna received her Bachelor degree in Economics-Business at UCLA and her Master degree in Tax Law at Golden Gate University.
Jeff has always had an interest in helping communities close to home and abroad. He previously served on the board of Rainbow Days in Dallas and worked with a Social Impact firm in India to provide funding for small agricultural organizations. He joined Austin Kids Can! to help provide better educational access to Austin’s youth. Jeff has spent most of his career in consulting and now works with Dell’s product strategy group. He graduated from the University of Texas of Austin with a BBA in Finance and then received an MBA from the University of Chicago. When Jeff isn’t working he enjoys tennis, running, and cooking.
Chris is passionate about helping younger generations develop a curiosity for learning and self-improvement. In the professional setting, Chis works as a financial planner for Pioneer Wealth Management Group, helping individuals build clarity and confidence around their personal finances. Chris holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) designations. In his free time, Chris enjoys live music, skiing, basketball, hiking the Greenbelt, and reading.
Brandy is licensed to practice law in Texas. She has dedicated her career as a lawyer to helping low-income persons obtain relief from the civil and criminal justice system. Brandy’s legal advocacy includes special education, health law, landlord-tenant, probate, family law, social security benefits, and consumer law. Prior to her career as an attorney, Brandy obtained her Master of Science degree in Community and Regional Planning. And she subsequently worked as a Transportation Planner. In that role, Brandy collaborated with municipalities and public transportation providers all over the state of Texas to develop plans that identified opportunities to make roadways safer, and more accessible for pedestrians and bicycle users. Brandy also worked with community partners to develop plans that improved access to public transportation for older adults and persons with disabilities.
JAMES Y LI
James works at the intersection of governments, nonprofits, and private companies to create innovative financing solutions to improve social outcomes. Currently at Social Finance, a leading nonprofit, James assesses, structures, and manages projects that focus on improving workforce outcomes for low-income, underserved individuals and expanding access to high-quality education and job training programs. Prior to joining Social Finance, James worked as an investment professional in growth equity, conducting new investment due diligence and portfolio company management. James graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a BBA in Finance and a BA in Economics. In his spare time, James enjoys reading, playing his guitar, and puzzling over strategy games.
Liz Stevenson has always had a love to travel and to help others. After graduating with a Masters in International Management in Heidelberg, Germany, she came back stateside to build her career in technology. Ms. Stevenson knew technology would change the world and how we do business. Ms. Stevenson has a strong history in application management software and channel management with CISCO, Peer 1 and Integrated Research. At Cisco, she was a founder of the Women’s Action Network and worked with Girl Start to encourage young girls to stay in science, math and technology. Ms. Stevenson graduated from Regis University with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and Public Relations.
Coming Soon ...
1: National Center for Education Statistics. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL).
2: Write Express Corporation. “Literacy Statistics.” Begin to Read. Accessed February 24, 2015.
3: United Way Austin. “Poverty continues to climb for Austin children.” January, 29, 2013.
4: Baker and Witt, 1996; Kahne, Nagaoka & Brown, 1999; Posner & Vandell, 1999.
5: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996.